Design of a programmable micro-ultrasound research platform

Harry C. T. Chiu, Lequan Zhang, Dave K. H. Cheung, Changhong Hu, K. Kirk Shung, Alfred C. H. Yu
Medical Engineering Program, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR
IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS), 2010


   title={Design of a Programmable Micro-Ultrasound Research Platform},

   author={Chiu, H.C.T. and Zhang, L. and Cheung, D.K.H. and Hu, C. and Shung, K.K. and Yu, A.C.H.},

   booktitle={IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS), 2010},



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To foster innovative uses of micro-ultrasound in biomedicine, it is beneficial to develop flexible research-purpose systems that allow researchers to easily reconfigure its system-level operations such as transmit firing sequence and receive processing. In this paper, we present the development of a programmable micro-ultrasound research platform that is capable of realizing various micro-imaging algorithms. The research platform comprises a linear-array-based scanning front-end and a PC-based data processing back-end, which employs a graphical processing unit (GPU) as the processor core. The front-end operations can be configured from the PC via the parallel port and the two blocks are synchronized by an external clock. Acquired data from the front-end is first digitized and relayed to the PC through an data acquisition card (200 MHz, 14-bit). They are then transferred to the GPU (GTX 275) in which the image formation is carried out via multi-thread processing. Results are displayed on-screen in real-time and can be saved to the PC’s hard disk for offline analysis. Through a module-based programming approach, this platform can facilitate realization of custom-designed imaging algorithms developed by researchers. In this work, B-mode imaging and adaptive color flow imaging have been implemented as demonstrations of the research platform’s programmability. The performance results show that real-time processing frame rates can be achieved for both imaging modes.
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