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TI targets medical apps with new devices

Posted: 13 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:RF solution  embedded processors  high voltage pulsers 

Establishing an effort to put semiconductors at the heart of medical electronics, Texas Instruments Inc. came out with three new offerings: a low power, single-chip RF solution for microcontroller-based applications working at sub-GHz rates, embedded processors for medical imaging applications, and a range of high voltage pulsers and switches targeted at compact ultrasound systems.

"Semiconductors are at a relatively early stage of being used fully in this sector, but many companies are now beginning to target medical electronics. We have a dedicated team looking at potential applications and have invested $15 million (Rs.75.05 crore) in the area, and have helped fund start-ups that are developing medical electronic systems and devices," said Gregg Lowe, senior vice president, analogue, at TI.

By reducing system complexity, shrinking package and PCB size by up to 50 per cent and making RF design easy, the proprietary CC430 platform helps advance applications including RF networking, energy harvesting, industrial monitoring and tamper detection, personal wireless networks and automatic metering infrastructure (AMI).

Initial devices in the range are based on TI's 16bit MSP430F5xx MCU and low power RF transceivers operating at sub-1GHz, which draws a low enough current to enable battery-operated wireless networking applications that operate without servicing for ten years or longer, says TI.

The first CC430 devices are monolithic with high integration to allow for a 50 per cent reduction in package and PCB space compared to two-chip solutions. TI suggests applications include smart hospital tracking systems that communicate patient or medical equipment information to a central location, as well as personal area networking between watches, pedometers, chest strap heart rate monitors and PC-based health and fitness analysis programs.

The first CC430 samples will be available in the first quarter of next year, with different versions and volumes scheduled for later in 2009.

The 15 dedicated embedded processors target medical imaging applications including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), digital x-ray, optical coherence tomography (OCT) and other newly developed modalities. The processors range from high-performance multi-core devices to very low- power products that meet the imaging equipment manufacturers' needs.

And the TX734 series of integrated high-voltage pulsers and switches is specifically aimed at designers of compact ultrasound systems. The first in the family will be a quad-channel, high-voltage transmitter, specifically designed for portable to mid-range medical ultrasound systems.

TI says the range reduces board space by 50 per cent compared to discrete solutions, and its active damping feature improves pulse symmetry and second order distortion to achieve clearer images.

Active damping, also called fast clamping to ground, allows for a clean three-level return-to-zero (RTZ) waveform. This improves pulse symmetry and delivers low second order distortion of -40 dB. The active damping feature in the TX734 prevents noise from being injected into the transducer, which improves signal sensitivity by at least 5dBc, resulting in better image quality.

The TX734 integrates four channels of level translators, drivers, high-voltage output stage and active damping into a 64-pin, 9mm x 9mm QFN package.

The part will be sampling in January 2009, with evaluation modules the following month and volume production scheduled for Q4 09.

-John Walko
EE Times Europe

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