Electronics Production | January 15, 2008

FPGA, DSP, ASIC growth driven by higher<br>flexibility in medical imaging equipment

The increasing requirement of high-end processors and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) in imaging equipment for high performance computing capabilities drives global demand for FPGAs, digital signal processors (DSPs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the market earned revenues of $602.87 million in 2006 and estimates this to reach $917.15 million in 2011.

Medical imaging equipment demands various processing requirements based on the specific data acquisition principles and algorithms used in image processing. Most of these applications demand high power computing that involves a combination of mathematical and logical operators as well as efficient memory access.

“With increasing imaging system processing requirements, DSPs with a fixed number of multipliers will need several such processors to be used which increase the price point,” explains Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Gowtham Kumar Sampath. “Hence, the advantages of FPGA in digital signal processing over other processors and custom IC make it a viable alternative for most equipment including current generation PET machines and volume imaging conducted in CT that requires high performance computing.”

With changing market demands for standards and algorithmic developments, it has become easier to implement changes on the field which make hardware customization possible.

The hardware flexibility of DSP does not allow the implementation of frequent changes. The current trend uses a mix of FPGA and DSP for data acquisition and filtering, along with image processing.

The growing demand for high resolutions has led to the fusion of diagnostic modes and algorithm advances. Moreover, portable monitoring devices requiring greater device intelligence and communications than previous equipment increasingly find favor in the market.

Although FPGAs have begun to replace DSP in most applications, there exists a trend to use them as co-processors. There still exists a healthy market for DSPs with a small reduction in the number of units used.

While FPGA does most of the computing, DSP uses its complementing capabilities to offload some of the computations done prior to the image processing. On the other hand, some medical OEMs prefer to use application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to implement specific functionalities in their equipment.

“Semiconductor vendors for FPGA, DSP, and ASIC must address the growing requirements of the medical imaging industry by integrating multiple channels and increasing the capabilities of programmable logic with a huge number of logic cells and multiple DSP block capabilities,” explains Sampath. “Companies also need to target their markets specifically with re-configurable solutions that can reduce time to market and decrease complexity in implementation.”
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