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Everyday App Note: Linear Regulator and Switch Mode Power Supplies

Sam Sattel


Everyday App Note: Learn the Basic Concepts of Linear Regulator and Switch Mode Power Supplies

Today’s Everyday App Note comes from Analog Devices, a leader in the design and manufacturing of analog, mixed-signal, and DSP integrated circuits. In this app note, Analog dives into the problem of power supply design and selection. Power management is getting thrown onto the plates of system designers, many who don’t have a background in power supply design. We’ve got you covered. With this app note, you’ll build a foundation of knowledge in linear regulator and switch mode power supply concepts.


Who Is This App Note For?

This app note was created for an electrical engineer who is tasked with designing a power management system but lacks prior experience in power supply design. The most challenging hurdle is to simply understand what kind of power supply you need to design, either a linear regulator or switch mode device.

Why Should You Read This App Note?

Many of today’s electronic devices are focused on efficiency and require more power rails than ever. With loads that range anywhere from a few mA to over 100A, it’s important to choose a power management solution that meets your specific circuit design requirements, such as:

  • Power conversion efficiency
  • Printed circuit board (PCB) space limitations
  • Output regulation requirements
  • Transient response time requirements
  • Cost to design and manufacture

This app note provides an in-depth overview of the two most common power supply designs to consider – linear regulator and switch mode power supplies. After reading this app note you’ll walk away with a clear understanding of what power supply you need to design for your next electronics device.

What Problems Does This App Note Solve?

Power converters hold the responsibility of generating a steady DC output voltage for a load from a fluctuating AC input source. This is no easy task and requires the power converter to meet load voltage and current regulation requirements during both steady-state and transient operations. In this app note you’ll learn how to protect and supply your load with two power supply topologies:

Linear Regulator

Linear regulators are known for their ease of use and provide a noise-free power management solution. Many integrated linear regulators only need VIN, VOUT, FB, and GND pins, making it easy for any electrical engineer to design and implement.


LT1086, one of the most common, and simple linear regulators. (Image source)

Switch Mode

Switch mode devices are ideal for applications where efficiency and battery life are important. In this power management solution, transistors switch on and off to block or conduct current. This topology provides a steady output voltage with low power dissipation, all in a small form factor.


Buck converter switch mode device that can both buck and boost voltage levels. (Image source)

There’s more to learn inside. Learn the basic concepts of linear regulators and switch mode power supplies by downloading this application note from Analog Devices now!

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