Ultrasound Application Specific Chips
The ultrasound market has grown to over six billion dollars in annual sales and this has attracted integrated chip manufacturers to design specific chips for a number of the specific ultrasound tasks. The performance of these chips surpasses any discrete design for performance / cost.
Today's ultrasound has developed multi-element transducers which require specialized amplification and digitization (analog to digital converters (ADCs) after which all the image formation can be performed in the "digital domain" (in our case in a single FPGA).
This digital domain provides stability, reliability and reproducible results with algorithms that mathematically produce the optimal image results.
Several manufacturers offer ultrasound specific ADCs where 8 or 16 elements can be processed in parallel and the results start with analog to digatal conversion with 14-bits of information every 16 to 25 nanoseconds per channel which, when serialized, results in hundreds of data channels all steaming data at gigahertz per second rates into the FPGA.
WinProbe Corporation: 11770 US Highway 1, Suite 405E, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 33408-3054 Tel: (561)626-4055 Info@winprobe.com
WinProbe Corporation is an accredited ISO13485:2003 / ISO 9001: 2008 manufacturer
WinProbe studies these manufacturer's chips and continuously selects the best for incorporation into the UltraVision. Here the FPGA is capable of updating the focusing, steering and apodizing these channels upon every clock (i.e. every 16-25 nanoseconds.
To excite the piezo electric elements (PZT) the transducer requires energetic pulses of, in our case, up to plus +/-100 volts with 2 amp drives and pico-second accuracy. Again several manufacturers have taken on the challenge and can provide monolithic solutions, again WinProbe has been agile in selecting the very best. The focusing, steering, aperture and apodization may only be chosen once for each transmission, but here again the parameters are calculated in the PC and sent to the FPGA for optimal imaging.
The basic laws of physics require that the information that the elements of the transducer receive must be coherent to be useful for summing in a process called beamforming thus the useful section of a typical transducer should be translated along the length of the transducer as acoustic lines that form the image are gathered. Thus there is a requirement for switching in which element should be used when and this function is called multiplexing. Several manufacturers have again source these parts but again with careful study there are best solutions.