A High-Speed Reconfigurable System for Ultrasound Research
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Many opportunities exist in medical ultrasound research for experimenting with novel designs, both of transducers and of signal processing techniques. However any experiment must have a reliable platform on which to develop these techniques. In my thesis work, I have designed, built, and tested a high-speed reconfigurable ultrasound beamforming platform. The complete receive beamformer system described in this thesis consists of hardware, firmware, and software components. All of these components work together to provide a platform for beamforming that is expandable, high-speed, and robust. The complexity of the operations being performed is hidden from the user by a simple to use and accessible software interface. Existing beamformer hardware is usually designed for real-time 2D image formation often using serial processing. The platform I built uses parallel processing in order to process ultrasound images 100 times faster than conventional systems. Conventional hardware is locked to a single or small number of similar transducers, while my design can be on-the-fly reprogrammed to work with nearly any transducer type. The system is also expandable to handle any size of device, while conventional systems can only handle a fixed number of device channels. The software I have created interfaces with the hardware and firmware components to provide an easy way to make use of the system’s reconfigurability. It also delivers a platform that can be simply expanded to host post-processing or signal analysis software to further fulfill a researcher’s needs.