Leveraging their history of providing highly reliable FPGAs, the folks at Actel have announced that their mixed-signal Fusion and low-power IGLOO and ProASIC3 families are enabling designers of medical equipment to stay ahead of the growing trends toward miniaturization and portability.
The ultra low-power, high-reliability, integration, small footprint and enhanced security advantages of Actel's flash-based FPGAs make them attractive for intelligent system and power management and various interface, display, communication, and storage controls, as well as microcontroller functions.
The folks at Actel also announced several successes in medical applications, ranging from home-based testing and monitoring devices and clinical equipment to imaging applications.
According to analyst firm Gartner Dataquest in September 2008, the medical electronics market for semiconductors is estimated to be approximately $3.42 billion in 2008. By 2012, this number is expected to reach $4.48 billion with FPGAs making up more than $323 million of that total.
"Today, medical manufacturers are moving entire systems into a portable unit the size of your hand-or smaller," said Actel vice president of product marketing and business development, Rich Kapusta. "As a result, high levels of integration, low power, small footprint and high reliability are required to meet battery specifications, reduce design footprint, ensure reliable operation and minimize heat dissipation. Actel's mixed-signal Fusion and low-power IGLOO FPGAs offer these advantages, giving designers an alternative for the design of their next-generation medical applications."
Home-based test and monitoring devices
Healthcare is shifting toward home-based applications. Often battery powered, home infusion pumps, respiratory therapy products, and portable blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure monitors require low-power operation, small form factor and high reliability.
Offering a high level of integration, Actel's single-chip, mixed-signal Fusion FPGAs can perform the system, power, and thermal management of home-based test and monitoring devices – from system power-down/up functions to data logging and temperature sensing.
Because of the need for low-power consumption and extended battery life in home-based devices, Actel's 5µW IGLOO FPGA, with its ultra low power Flash*Freeze mode, can offer designers up to 1700 times lower power consumption than competing programmable solutions. In an insulin pump, for example, ultra-low-power IGLOO FPGAs can also absorb additional glue logic and multiple functions – from human machine interface (HMI), display, storage and communication control to microcontroller functions – into a single chip, thereby reducing bill of materials, board area, power consumption and cost.
Many clinical applications, such as diagnostic lab equipment, drug delivery systems, automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and hemodialysis machines, can benefit from the integration and capabilities that these mixed-signal FPGAs can offer. In a robotic surgery system, for example, Actel's mixed-signal Fusion FPGA can handle the system management and control functions and leverages its embedded flash for data logging or its analog quads for ADC, temperature and voltage sensing.
With varying densities, performance and features, Actel's low-power, flash-based FPGAs are also suitable for clinical equipment applications. Last year, Mindray Medical, China's leading developer and manufacturer of medical devices, selected Actel's flash-based ProASIC3 FPGAs for their portable patient monitoring systems due to the ultra low power, performance, reliability and enhanced security the FPGAs offered.
Though some medical imaging applications remain tethered to the wall, portable ultrasound imaging systems are impacted by the trend toward portability. As a result, these applications not only need extended battery life, but also require high-power computing and efficient memory access. Reiterating the growing emphasis on low power, reliability and small packaging for portable imaging applications, Actel's ultra low power IGLOO FPGA has been selected to handle the power and reset management functionality within next-generation portable imaging equipment, offering power savings and extending battery life.