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Beamforming ASIC claims low power consumption

Posted: 01 Dec 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:beamformer  ASIC  FPGA 

Samplify Systems Inc. unveils SAM2032, a configurable 32-channel digital receive beamformer claimed as the industry's first merchant beamforming ASIC that interfaces to 12bit ADCs with 32 serialised LVDS inputs.

The SAM2032 leverages the company's Autofocus technology that claims to offer the lowest power consumption and highest performance compared to current FPGA-based beamformer devices.

According to the company, the highly configurable ASIC provides the flexibility for ultrasound OEMs to simplifying software and system design, thus speeding time to market for many machines from ultra-low power handhelds, through mid-range and high-end implementations.

The receive beamformer is at the heart of any ultrasound front-end electronics sub-system, stated the company. The SAM2032 addresses a critical gap in the current FPGA application of these devices. While higher-end FPGAs can be used to develop a high-performance receive beamformer, their higher cost, higher power consumption and larger size limits their use to premium console ultrasound machines, said Samplify. Conversely, lower-end FPGAs can be used as a cost-effective alternative, but their limited resources present system performance constraints.

The high-performance data-path consists of delay memory, cubic interpolation and apodisation weighting prior to summation of the 32 channels. The device supports dynamic focusing and apodisation where coefficients are updated continuously on every sample. RF beam data is converted to base band using a true I/Q down converter for optimal noise performance. With a tunable centre frequency and programmable decimation filter bandwidth, an optimal tracking filter throughout the entire scan depth can be implemented.

The device supports sampling rates of up to 50MHz and parallel beam processing using Samplify's QuadBeam technology that generates up to four receive beams simultaneously for higher frame-rates for colour overlays, added the company.

Samplify's on-board AutoFocus engine is an application specific DSP that calculates the coefficients and weights for the beamformer data-path in real-time. This calculator reduces system complexity and cost because no external memory or real-time link to the back-end CPU is required.

The SAM2032 comes in a 672-ball 27 x 27mm PBGA lead-free package. Based on imaging modes employed, the device consumes a fraction of the power of comparable FPGA implementations, noted Samplify.

To simplify system design and further reduce time-to-market, Samplify offers a complete HW/SW development platform for the SAM2032. The company's SMK9130 is a 64-channel complete Tx/Rx ultrasound beamforming front-end platform. It includes all front-end electronics and high-voltage power supplies in a single small chassis with a multiplexed probe interface on one end, and a USB2.0/x4 PCIe1.1 interface to a back-end CPU on the other.

A high-level API is provided to customers of the SAM2032 beamformer IC and its development platform. The Samplify Ultrasound API (SUAPI) abstracts the underlying hardware in the system allowing OEMs to develop software quickly through a high level of scans, frames, sub-frames, firing plans, etc. definitions instead of low-level register settings. Preset and arbitrary transducer definitions are provided and passed to the SAM2032 via the API. The API is provided as a shared library and header files give full access to the richness of the SAM2032's programmable features so OEMs can define how they perform beamforming in the system and differentiate their products. The API is available for Windows, Linux and MacOS.





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