ConformalALU: A Conformal Geometric Algebra Coprocessor for Medical Image Processing

Medical imaging involves important computational geometric problems, such as image segmentation and analysis, shape approximation, three-dimensional (3D) modeling, and registration of volumetric data. In the last few years, Conformal Geometric Algebra (CGA), based on five-dimensional (5D) Clifford Algebra, is emerging as a new paradigm that offers simple and universal operators for the representation and solution of complex geometric problems. However, the widespread use of CGA has been so far hindered by its high dimensionality and computational complexity. This paper proposes a simplified formulation of the conformal geometric operations (reflections, rotations, translations, and uniform scaling) aimed at a parallel hardware implementation. A specialized coprocessing architecture (ConformalALU) that offers direct hardware support to the new CGA operators, is also presented.

The ConformalALU has been prototyped as a complete System-on-Programmable-Chip (SoPC) on the Xilinx ML507 FPGA board, containing a Virtex-5 FPGA device. Experimental results show average speedups of one order of magnitude for CGA rotations, translations, and dilations with respect to the geometric algebra software library Gaigen running on the general-purpose PowerPC processor embedded in the target FPGA device. A suite of medical imaging applications, including segmentation, 3D modeling and registration of medical data, has been used as test bench to evaluate the coprocessor effectiveness.