PFU Systems develops low-power computer module

November 26, 2003

G3 debuts at RSNA Mobile Computing PavilionPFU Systems has begun marketing a compact system-on-module (SOM) technology for use in mobile radiology products and other high-performance mobile systems. The 32-bit technology, called

G3 debuts at RSNA Mobile Computing Pavilion

PFU Systems has begun marketing a compact system-on-module (SOM) technology for use in mobile radiology products and other high-performance mobile systems. The 32-bit technology, called Plug-N-Run G3, will be shown at the RSNA Mobile Computing Pavilion, which will feature mobile technologies that could affect the practice of radiology.

G3 is the latest in a family of embedded-system technologies developed by PFU. The SOM, using Intel's Pentium M and 855 GME chipset, enables secure, embedded performance in a compute-intensive mobile system. The SOM gives engineers an edge in the development of end-user equipment, providing the same level of performance as custom-designed systems but in a prefab package. Its integration can cut development time in half, according to Kishan Jainandunsing, vice president of marketing for PFU Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of PFU Ltd. of Japan.

The Plug-N-Run G3 is optimized to dissipate heat, which can be particularly vexing in mobile system. Its low power consumption, achieved by dynamically altering power consumption to fit demand, and its resistance to shock and vibration suit the SOM to such radiology products as portable workstations and mobile ultrasound and x-ray systems.

"Portable machines are idle a lot of the time," Jainandunsing said. "G3 uses those idle periods to dissipate the heat."

G3 can also support multidisplay graphics using low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS). This feature delivers the bandwidth necessary to drive large data rates to displays located many meters away from the control console.

"With LVDS technology you can put the digital display in the visual path of the technologist," said Jon Barnard, PFU Systems marketing communications manager.

The display might be placed in the line of sight for a patient in an MR suite, he said. It might be used to hang the display so the sonographer could more easily look between the patient and the image. Or the built-in graphics processor could be used to drive two displays with two different data sets. Alternatively, the processor might send data to matched displays that can be stitched together to create a large single image.

PFU products are marketed to equipment developers in several industries, including medical and industrial imaging, homeland security, and military applications. The company is part of an international joint venture between Matsushita (Panasonic) and Fujitsu Ltd., two of the largest electronics manufacturers and IT service providers in the world. Before April 2002, the company was known as Cell Computing. Worldwide revenue from PFU's applied computing business is expected to reach $80 million in 2002 and $150 million in 2003. Medical applications should be a major contributor to those numbers, according to Jainandunsing.

PFU last year released the 64-bit Blazor, an ultrahigh-performance embedded product suited to premium-performance systems (SCAN 11/27/03). Blazor has since been integrated into an ultrasound machine built and being shipped by GE Medical Systems.

The 32-bit microarchitecture of the G3 supports multiple operations using 1 MB of on-chip advanced transfer cache, 400-MHz front side bus, double data rate memory technology, and high-performance 2D/3D graphics with dual independent display pipes. Its primary near-term application is to process data acquired by mobile equipment, but G3 could also have an impact on the way images are viewed.

"LVDS changes the nature of the display and how it is tethered to the device," Barnard said.