"Ttry reading this and maybe you'll understand at least one of the issues. "
As it happens I've a working knowledge of measurement systems and the problems of RF analogue design.
Let me make a few points.
"The send receive has to operate with a degree of thiming precision in the MHz range"
Oh wait we live in world where PC motherboards run at GHz frequencies. Now if they said the edges of those timing pulses had to be accurate to 1ns he's have some serious trouble. But he didn't.
"Timing is therefore usually handled by a single quasi autonomous card that is programmed in a unique language to trigger sequences of events. I"
IOW it's a Black Box that's handles all the precision timing. Still not a problem.
"fed their activity lists usually by an old school RISC card that is not doing anything else a"
Another Black Box. Again nothing to do with the network.
"The old school RISC card then sends the data by Ethernet to the PC (used to be SGI or SUN up tlll about 2000) which is where the issue actually is."
SOP for most network systems is
Build data buffer
Pass start address and length to interface card.
DMA squirts the data out over the link and interrupts if it receives something back or buffer runs out.
Of course if someone has saved a few £ by doing the Ethernet interface in software you're in deep s**t. :-( AFAIK the main Ethernet chips are a few £. Of course being able to make sense of the data sheet (or rather the several 100 page book listing it's registers and what their settings mean) is another matter.
Likewise if they wrote the handler code at the other end in an MS "Managed" IE interpreted language that's likely to have some timing issues. Or maybe they just wrote buggy code?
BTW I'm not a PhD but when people start talking about multi channel scopes and logic analyzers I start thinking "Bad grounding, poor bypassing, poor partitioning (high level analogue, low level analogue, digital), runt pulses"
But here's the kicker.
So what? The only PC that should be talking to is a modern PC running an up to date OS IE without SMB V1.0 as a problem to begin with.
Yes this stuff costs an arm and a leg.
Yes the are a valuable investment with a working life in decades (actually the nearest thing I can think of them was a comment that some of the animation cameras used for the computer controlled animation task, I mean actual models, not CGI, dated from the 1920's and 1930's)
So 47 trusts.What's that? 100 sites? MRI is one per site? CT is another, say a couple of ultrasound units?
Wow that's possibly 400 PC's that need TLC.
Now what about the rest of them?
GUI to embedded HW <> regular desktop PC.