Ultrafast ultrasound imaging is essential for advanced ultrasound imaging techniques such as ultrasound localization microscopy (ULM) and functional ultrasound (fUS). Current ultrafast ultrasound imaging is challenged by the ultrahigh data bandwidth associated with the radio frequency (RF) signal, and by the latency of the computationally expensive beamforming process. As such, continuous ultrafast data acquisition and beamforming remain elusive with existing software beamformers based on CPUs or GPUs. To address these challenges, the proposed work introduces a novel method of implementing an ultrafast ultrasound beamformer specifically for ultrafast plane wave imaging (PWI) on a field programmable gate array (FPGA) by using high-level synthesis. A parallelized implementation of the beamformer on a single FPGA was proposed by 1) utilizing a delay compression technique to reduce the delay profile size, which enables both run-time pre-calculated delay profile loading from external memory and delay reuse, 2) vectorizing channel data fetching which is enabled by delay reuse, and 3) using fixed summing networks to reduce consumption of logic resources. Our proposed method presents two unique advantages over current FPGA beamformers: 1) high scalability th at allows fast adaptation to different FPGA resources and beamforming speed demands by using Xilinx High-Level Synthesis as the development tool, and 2) allow a compact form factor design by using a single FPGA to complete the beamforming instead of multiple FPGAs. Current Xilinx FPGAs provide the capabilities of connecting up to 1024 ultrasound channels with a single FPGA and the newest JESD204B interface analog front end (AFE). This channel count is much more than the channel count needed by current linear arrays, which normally have 128 or 256 channels. With the proposed method, a sustainable average beamforming rate of 4.83 G samples/second in terms of input raw RF sample was achieved. The resulting image quality of the proposed beamformer was compared with the software beamformer on the Verasonics Vantage system for both phantom imaging and in vivo imaging of a mouse brain. Multiple imaging schemes including B-mode, power Doppler and ULM were assessed to verify th at the image quality was not compromised for speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-457
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


  • Beamforming
  • FPGA
  • parallelization
  • real-time
  • super-resolution imaging
  • ultrafast ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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