Ultrasound imaging is a significant medical imaging method that has been used as a diagnostic tool in medicine for many years. The reason for its popularity is due to the facts that it is non-invasive, cost-effective, portable, and results are real-time.
Conventional ultrasound imaging systems use frequencies from 2 - 15MHz with a millimeter resolution level. They have been widely used in monitoring fetuses, as well as diagnosing diseases in internal organs such as the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and bladder.
Over the past 20 years, traditional console-type ultrasound systems have dominated medical ultrasound applications. This is due to the large channel number and extensive signal processing requirements of ultrasound systems. Aging populations, rising healthcare costs and increased demand in emerging economies have created a rapidly growing need for innovative medical solutions.
Well-developed semiconductor technologies with improved performance and decreased prices such as digital signal processors (DSP) have enhanced medical imaging equipment dramatically. Meanwhile, it also accelerates the miniaturization of medical ultrasound imaging systems. Additionally, reducing the system size doesn't mean performance degradation. The miniaturized ultrasound system (i.e., portable ultrasound system) can achieve similar performance as traditional console-type systems.
Current portable ultrasound systems provide good imaging quality to help doctors make accurate and timely diagnosis. As a result, portable systems play an increasingly important role in applications such as prompt trauma diagnosis, and emergency diagnosis and treatment. As more ultrasound manufacturers are developing portable ultrasound systems, manufacturers who can release products more quickly can gain more market share.
Both ultrasound analog front ends (AFE) and DSPs with compact size and high performance are in demand by ultrasound manufacturers. More importantly, ultrasound manufacturers want one design that can be shared with various systems to minimize their developmental cycle time and speed time-to-market.
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