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Samplify's Data Compression a Blessing for Storage

Samplify Systems, a real-time sampled data compression startup in Santa Clara, Calif., that solves I/O bottlenecks, has an interesting, second-generation take on data movement and storage for real-world, high-speed signals that get digitized by analog-to-digital converters (ADCs). It uses a patented, high-end, but low-complexity compression algorithm to compress certain kinds of signals that have never been compressed before, such as signals captured within hospital ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) equipment.

Samplify has the world's only compression engine which can operate at over 100 megasamples per second in an FPGA chip (field programmable gate array) to expand a system's storage capacity. That is blazingly fast. FPGAs are sold by Silicon Valley chip companies such as Xilinx and Altera.

The result: Much faster data movement and access to storage, better usage of storage capacity, and a much milder impact in the environment, because it takes much less energy to move all that heavy-duty sampled data.

"Compression technology has been used for 20 years for audio (MP3), images (JPG), video and other data forms, and these algorithms do the job very well," Al Wegener, founder and CTO of Samplify, told eWEEK. "Those are not our markets. But there are a number of other sectors in which (data) compression has never been used, such as in medical imaging, wireless base stations, and test and measurement equipment. That's where we play."

And the existing consumer compression algorithms just don't compress the signals that Samplify compresses. Existing algorithms are just too slow, often by a factor of 10,000, Wegener said.

The company on April 11 announced the availability of its Windows Release 2.6 and a separate embedded edition. Samplify Embedded provides the same compression and decompression engine as the Samplify for Windows application, but it also offers supporting end user application development through an API (applications programming interface).

Many of Samplify's customers in the defense and medical imaging markets want to maximize the benefits of compression on their signal chain by compressing their signals in FPGA and preserving them in the compressed domain until just prior to decompression in software, Wegener said.

"With Samplify for Windows, and Samplify Embedded Edition, we can now give our customers the ability to integrate signal decompression into their real-time signal processing software," Wegener said.

"Release 2.6 of Samplify for Windows provides a user-friendly GUI around the Prism software compression engine with numerous enhancements to enable system architects to test its various compression modes on their own signals and be guaranteed that they will achieve the exact same results in hardware with Samplify for FPGA, or in using the standalone Embedded Edition software engine."

Compression, in general, is going to become increasingly important as the real-world sampled data explosion continues. Samplify appears to be in position to play a vital role in that market.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...