DN Staff

December 15, 2009

3 Min Read
Analog Front End Solutions Shrink Ultrasound Equipment

Design News talks with Scott Pavlik, marketing manager, Healthcare Segment Team, Analog Devices, about the company's evolving analog front end solutions for ultrasound platforms.

There have been some amazing advancements in medical technology over the last decade. What's going on in the area of ultrasound equipment?

Over the last decade one of the major trends in ultrasound from an equipment perspective has been the advent of portable systems, both cart-based and handheld devices. This has given health care providers unprecedented flexibility, including use of these devices in ambulances and field hospitals and by rescue crews.

What are some of the biggest challenges that design engineers are confronted by in this area?

As is the case with any evolving technology, what's complicated for engineers is that they need to deal with a number of competing design goals simultaneously, including a longer battery life, better image quality through capabilities like fine resolution and deeper penetration, improved reliability and lower cost. For their designs to be competitive in the marketplace, there is a whole host of trade-offs and issues that they have to deal with.

What is Analog Devices doing to help designers cope?

In 2007, Analog Devices introduced the first device to integrate a complete eight-channel ultrasound receiver on a single chip, with a low-noise amplifier, variable-gain amplifier, anti-aliasing filter and a 12-bit ADC - which takes a direct signal into the digital domain.

For engineers this was significant, as it allowed them to significantly reduce the footprint of the PC board, which obviously had an impact on the overall size and weight of the product, and it also allowed them to pack more measurement channels into a given area. That's significant, because generally speaking, the higher the performance, the higher the number of channels. In addition, an integrated front end solution reduces the losses and inefficiencies that occur when laying out individual components on a board.

A year ago Analog Devices expanded its offerings in this area with two new products, the AD9272 and the AD9273. What are some of the key features?

These new devices are designed to maximize image quality and reduce power consumption. Some of the key features include a Serial Port Interface that allows engineers to customize the noise and power performance, low input noise current and high input dynamic range. Specifically, the AD9273 has power dissipation lower than 100 mW per channel @ 12-bits and 40 MSPS, which is instrumental in extending the battery life of portable ultrasound equipment.

Where is the market evolving?

Processor speeds will keep going up, and the design engineers will continue focusing on performance and adding new features. Reduced power and size will continue to be the key areas of focus moving forward.

Now where have we heard that before?!

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