FPGA imaging equipment market to reach $917M
The increasing requirement of high-end processors and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) in imaging equipment for high performance computing capabilities drives global demand for FPGAs, digital signal processors (DSPs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), according to a report from Frost & Sullivan. The report found that the market earned revenues of $602.87 million in 2006 and estimated to reach $917.15 million in 2011.

Medical imaging equipment demands various processing requirements based on the specific data acquisition principles and algorithms used in image processing, the authors wrote. Most of the applications demand high power computing that involves a combination of mathematical and logical operators as well as efficient memory access, according to the report.

‘With increasing imaging system processing requirements, DSPs with a fixed number of multipliers will need several such processors to be used which increase the price point," said Gowtham Kumar Sampath, Frost & Sullivan research analyst. “Hence, the advantages of FPGA in digital signal processing over other processors and custom IC make it a viable alternative for most equipment including current generation PET machines and volume imaging conducted in CT that requires high performance computing.”

The report said the hardware flexibility of DSP does not allow the implementation of frequent changes, and the current trend uses a mix of FPGA and DSP for data acquisition and filtering, along with image processing.

Although FPGAs have begun to replace DSP in most applications, there exists a trend to use them as co-processors and a healthy market for DSPs with a small reduction in the number of units used still exists, the report said.

While FPGA does most of the computing, DSP uses its complementing capabilities to offload some of the computations done prior to the image processing. Yet, some medical OEMs prefer to use ASIC to implement specific functionalities in their equipment.

“Semiconductor vendors for FPGA, DSP and ASIC must address the growing requirements of the medical imaging industry by integrating multiple channels and increasing the capabilities of programmable logic with a huge number of logic cells and multiple DSP block capabilities,” explained Sampath. “Companies also need to target their markets specifically with re-configurable solutions that can reduce time to market and decrease complexity in implementation.”