Medical image processing four times faster with Mercury Computer's new VantageRT 7400 system

Chelmsford 09 January 2001Mercury Computer Systems has introduced the RACE++ Series VantageRT 7400 processing system, that promises to compute image and signal-processing algorithms four times faster than its earlier products. The new unit combines RACE++, the company's second-generation interconnect architecture, and the performance of the Motorola PowerPC 7400 microprocessor with AltiVec technology to provide high-performance processing systems that scale from two to 32 processors in an industrial PC chassis.


The VantageRT 7400 brings high-performance RACE++ multi-processing into the PCI space. Each base module contains 2 PowerPC 7400 processors, commonly known as the "G4", and uses high-bandwidth RACE++ connections to communicate with processors on other base modules. The systems are shipped with a complete set of real time software for both image and signal-processing applications, including an integrated development environment, multi-processor communications libraries and algorithm libraries, which are hand optimised for the AltiVec vector-processing engine.

"The VantageRT 7400 system uniquely satisfies a growing demand for scalable digital signal and image processing in a PCI system", stated Richard Jaenicke, director of product marketing at Mercury Computer Systems. He also added that the PowerPC 7400 has been implemented in a scalable design for application requirements such as medical imaging, digital television, defence electronics, and wireless communications. The flexible RACE++ communications fabric implements two RACE++ pathways into each VantageRT 7400 module, providing more than sufficient bandwidth for keeping these processors running with data for an optimum performance.

The applications expected to benefit from VantageRT 7400 systems include new medical imaging modalities such as multi-slice computed tomography (CT), digital X-ray, and interventional imaging, an emerging technique which provides physicians with images produced during surgery. Also, the growing number of military applications utilising the PCI environment, from sonar to ground stations, will rely on the significantly increased computing power and density of VantageRT 7400 systems, while also taking advantage of the broad availability of low-cost PCI components and peripherals.

The VantageRT 7400 uses RACE++ to connect multiple processors on multiple modules into a single multiprocessing system. RACE++ is a high-bandwidth switching fabric, using multiple non-blocking crossbars to route transactions between processors or between the processor and I/O. Designed to meet low-latency, real time data transfer requirements, every RACE++ connection has a 267 MB/s bandwidth. The architecture is scalable, with increasing system bandwidth as processors and crossbars are added, thus ranging up to 4.2 GB/s for a 16-module VantageRT 7400 configuration.

System performance is enhanced by the AltiVec technology of the PowerPC 7400 processors. Each one has an AltiVec vector processing unit, which revolutionises the performance of computationally intensive applications, such as image and signal processing, by operating on up to four floating-point numbers or up to 16 integers with a single instruction. Mathematical routines optimised for AltiVec run 3 to 5 times faster than those utilising a scalar floating-point unit. Volume pricing starts at $13.000. The product is available for immediate order, with volume production planned for February 2001.

Mercury Computer Systems is an independent producer of high-performance embedded, real time digital signal and image processing computer systems which transform sensor data to information for analysis and interpretation. Mercury's products play a critical role in a wide range of defence electronics and medical imaging applications. Mercury's systems are utilised in state-of-the-art medical diagnostic devices, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), and the rapidly growing field of digital X-ray. Based in Massachusetts, Mercury serves customers in North America, Europe and Asia through its direct sales force and a network of subsidiaries and distributors.

Leslie Versweyveld

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