A FPGA-based Real-Time Volume Rendering System

Period of Performance: 05/24/2007 - 06/17/2007


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Varian Medical Systems
Lincolnshire, IL 60069
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project involves the research and development of a real-time FPGA-based volume rendering system. Medical radiologists face a data overload crisis that is getting worse with each year. This crisis is caused by ongoing advances in diagnostic imaging technologies (i.e. CT, MR and ultrasound) that produce more images with higher resolution each year. Compounding this problem is the fact that the number of imaging studies is also growing each year. Current hardware and software solutions are not up to the challenge. As a result, important data is often overlooked producing inaccurate medial diagnoses. The goal of this project is to develop a low-cost FPGA-based volume render that will alleviate this data overload crisis. By eliminating data that does not contribute to 3D images, the volume Tenderer's performance will far exceed current solutions. By being based on FPGAs, the volume renderer will be upgradeable, allowing for future performance and functionality enhancements. Additionally, the renderer will support very high quality renderings through the use of higher-order gradients. Thus, the volume renderer will appeal to users in many markets, including: medical diagnostic imaging, oil exploration, security inspection and engineering simulations. One very exciting application of the 4D capabilities of the volume renderer will be in multi-slice CT cardiac imaging, enabling non-invasive procedures to be performed in place of current invasive procedures. As a consequence, the nation stands to benefit from productivity increases and improved health care. The volume renderer developed in this project will enable very large 3D and 4D data sets, generated by CT and MR scanners, to be viewed in real-time. This will make medical imaging more accurate and useful, improve the radiological workflow and speed up the discover of drugs. In addition, new high-end application such as 4D cardiac rendering will become possible.