According to a report from Frost & Sullivan, the field-programmable gate array (FPGA), digital signal processor (DSP), and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) market will grow to $917.15 million in 2011. The increasing requirement of high-end processors and FPGA in imaging equipment for high performance computing capabilities is driving the global demand for FPGAs, DSPs, and ASICs. Medical imaging equipment demands various processing requirements based on the specific data acquisition principles and algorithms used in image processing. Most of these applications demand high power computing that involves a combination of mathematical and logical operators as well as efficient memory access.
As a result of increasing imaging system processing requirements, DSPs with a fixed number of multipliers will need several such processors to be used. This of course, increases the cost, which in turn makes FPGAs a viable alternative for most equipment — including current generation PET machines and volume imaging conducted in CT that requires high performance computing.
In addition, with changing market demands for standards and algorithmic developments, it has become important to be able to implement changes in the field. The hardware flexibility of DSP does not allow the implementation of frequent changes. 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. There is still a healthy market for DSPs with a small reduction in the number of units used. While FPGA does most of the computing, DSP uses its complementing capabilities to offload some of the computations done prior to the image processing. On the other hand, some medical OEMs prefer to use application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to implement specific functionalities in their equipment.
More info: Frost & Sullivan