Versatile ultra-low power biomedical signal processor

February 25, 2011
Flexible ultra-low power biomedical signal processor designed by imec, Holst Centre and NXP.

At today’s International Solid-State Circuit Conference (ISSCC2011), imec, Holst Centre and NXP present a versatile ultra-low power biomedical signal processor, CoolBio, meeting the requirements of future wearable biomedical sensor systems. The biomedical signal processor consumes only 13pJ/cycle when running a complex ECG (electrocardiogram) algorithm at 1MHz and 0.4V operating voltage. This C-programmable chip is voltage and performance scalable supporting a frequency range of 1MHz up to 100MHz with an operating voltage from 0.4 to 1.2V.

Intelligent body area networks (BANs) consisting of wireless sensors nodes which continuously monitor vital body parameters such as heart, muscle and brain activity promise to be a solution for more comfortable, cost- and time-efficient healthcare systems. They allow people to be monitored and followed up at home, doing their daily life activities.

A major challenge in developing such BANs is to bring overall power consumption down to a level where the system can be powered by energy harvesting or a microbattery that runs for months.

The CoolBio allows drastic power reduction of the wireless BAN sensor nodes. Processing and compressing data locally on the BAN node limits power hungry transmission of data over the wireless link, while adding motion artifact reduction and smart diagnosis at the same time.

Imec, Holst Centre and started from the commercially available low power CoolFlux DSP baseband core from NXP (see www.coolflux.com) to design an ultra-low power flexible processor solution for body area networks applications. The architecture and circuitry were adapted to operate at near-threshold voltage (0.4V) at low operating frequencies. Extreme separation into multiple voltage power, clock and memory domains were implemented to guarantee high energy efficiency from standby to 100 MHz performance. The result means reduced power consumption at low operating frequency, while maintaining high performance possibilities for multi-channel biomedical signal processing.

“We designed the CoolBio based on the concept: “If there’s nothing to be done, then don’t waste energy!” With this key research focus on low power circuit techniques, we succeeded in designing with our industrial partner NXP a biomedical processor suitable for future biomedical products offering an optimized balance between performance and power consumption;” said Harmke De Groot, program director imec the Netherlands at Holst Centre.

“Ultra low power dissipation is a critical requirement for ubiquitous deployment of Personal Health solutions. NXP continues to push the envelope on all critical functions required in wearable healthcare solutions. CoolBio complements our comprehensive ultra low power portfolio with which we enable solutions improving people’s quality of life;” said Bart De Loore, VP New Business at NXP.

Medical device companies, Semiconductor manufacturers or fabless design houses who aim to evaluate the CoolBio or to develop their own bioprocessor can build on imec’s expertise by joining imec’s research program on ultra-low power processing for body area networks, part of the HUMAN++ program.

Explore further: NXP drives energy efficiency with bipolar transistors

Related Stories

NXP drives energy efficiency with bipolar transistors

March 14, 2007

NXP, the independent semiconductor company founded by Philips, today announced the availability of its latest generation of low VCEsat transistors, which reduces power loss by 80 percent compared to general purpose transistors.

Wireless EEG system self-powered by body heat and light

April 9, 2008

In the framework of Holst Centre, IMEC has developed a battery-free wireless 2-channel EEG (electroencephalography or monitoring of brain waves) system powered by a hybrid power supply using body heat and ambient light. The ...

Imec achieves breakthrough in battery-less radios

February 9, 2010

At today's International Solid State Circuit Conference, Imec and Holst Centre report a 2.4GHz/915MHz wake-up receiver which consumes only 51µW power. This record low power achievement opens the door to battery-less or energy-harvesting ...

Monitoring your health with your mobile phone

October 5, 2010

Belgian Imec, together with TASS software professionals have developed a mobile heart monitoring system that allows to view your electrocardiogram on an Android mobile phone.

Recommended for you

Sydney makes its mark with electronic paper traffic signs

July 28, 2015

Visionect, which is in the business of helping companies build electronic paper display products, announced that Sydney has launched e-paper traffic signs. The traffic signage integrates displays from US manufacturer E Ink ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.