Nehalem-EP just a heartbeat away – 3D Advanced Medical Visualization Demo

3-25-2009 11-14-57 AM.jpgWith the Nehalem architecture-based processor server/workstation launch just around the corner, customers are demonstrating how quickly they can take advantage of the performance afforded to them by our newest processor. One recent example was a Philips* CT demonstration of a beating heart at the major European IT show, CeBit*.  According to the Philips demonstration, they were able to render the human heart twice as fast using our upcoming Nehalem workstation processors as compared to the previous generation Intel® Xeon® processor 54xx series.  Check out the beating heart demonstration video in this link using our Nehalem architecture-based workstation processor.

For those of us with no medical background,  3D imaging is a tool enabling doctors to visualize the human body without invasive tools.  The patient is scanned, data is acquired, and a 3D model is assembled and they are able to show what going on in the human body without touching it.  CT tools are able to produce thousand of pictures or slices per second.  This results in large datasets that take time to process.  Software running on a server or workstation processes this vast amount of data to generate detailed 3D images and then can be interpreted by medical staff.   The primary challenge is managing large datasets generated by large volume acquisitions while speeding time to diagnosis.

The heart is a particularly challenging to visualize using CT scanning.  It is a very fast moving organ, with little control over its movement because is involuntary, and the heart needs to be frozen in time to get accurate anatomical picture.  Another challenge for volume rendering is high level image quality necessary so that anatomical structures of the heart can be depicted in an accurate way.

One interesting aspect of Philips CT solution is that image rendering takes place in the in the CPU which means that the performance of their solution is not restricted to by the memory available on a graphics card and is not slowed down by transfer of data between the CPU and the graphics card.  The Philips’ rendering software is multi-threaded and is able to take advantage of Intel advances in multi-threading /multi-core processing technology and software optimization tools for best performance improvements.

I believe Philips’ demonstration is just one example of how Nehalem architecture-based processors will provide meaningful advances in 3D visualization, not just in medical fields, but other areas such as manufacturing and digital content creation.

Jimmy Leon

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.