Skip to main content

Power Supply Design Software Requirements

Key Takeaways

  • Power supply design requires detailed simulations to ensure safety, performance, and efficiency. Tools like SPICE simulations offer valuable insights into transient behaviors, noise analysis, AC analysis, and parameter sweeps to optimize the design.

  • Access to a vast database allows for the selection and integration of components into the power supply design, streamlining the creation process.

  • Utilizing software that optimizes efficiency, size, cost, and thermal performance is essential.

Power Supply Unit (PSU) in PC

Power supply designs can be anything from bench-top power supplies to power regulator circuits on embedded boards to those found in desktop PCs.

Power supplies are found in almost every electronic device and come in a massive variety of form factors. They can range from small battery-powered microelectronics and medical devices to medium-sized desktop computer PSUs to massive supplies required to power speakers used in concerts or projectors in theaters. 

As there are so many different varieties of power supplies, when designing one for a specific applications, requirements vary from size, voltage regulation, noise reduction, to thermal management, and others. To streamline the process, power supply design software provides engineers comprehensive tools for workflow and design.

Power Supply Design Software: What to Look For 

Designing the power supply circuit for a printed circuit board (PCB) requires various tools such as developing schematics, laying out the PCB accounting for high-voltage needs such as creepage and clearance, running SPICE-based simulation and verification, post simulation requirements, and generating the files needed for manufacturing.  

After creating the circuit, depending on the power supply’s requirements, specific analysis types may be run, such as: frequency domain, thermal, voltage regulation, EMI, and efficiency analyses. For this reason, having various advanced tools can help you with your PCB layout —a crucial step, as it influences the thermal management strategies needed to maintain a low temperature on the circuit board.

Power Supply Design Software: Feature Requirements 



Simulation and Modeling

  • Provides tools for simulating electrical and thermal performance. 

  • Useful in understanding how the power supply behaves under different operating conditions.

Schematic Capture

  • Allows for creating electrical schematics that detail connections and components within the power supply.

PCB Layout Design

  • Enables the physical layout, incorporating considerations for component placement and trace routing. 

  • Info about creepage and clearance distances, critical in high voltage power supplies, preventing arcing and insulation breakdown between conductive parts.

Component Library

  • Includes a comprehensive database of components, such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, transformers, and semiconductors.

  • Facilitates easy selection and integration into the design.

Optimization Tools

  • Offers features to optimize the design for efficiency, size, cost, and thermal performance, among other parameters.

Analysis Tools

  • Frequency domain analysis: behavior of the power supply across different frequency ranges.

  • Thermal analysis: Assesses the temperature distribution within the power supply components to prevent overheating.

  • Efficiency analysis: Calculates the efficiency of the power supply by comparing input power to output power.

  • Electromagnetic interference (EMI) analysis: Identifies potential sources of electromagnetic interference and evaluates mitigation techniques to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.


  • Analyzing  simulation results, including metrics like IR drop, to identify areas for improvement and fine-tuning in the power supply design. 

  • Voltage regulation analysis: Verifies the power supply's ability to maintain stable output voltages within specified tolerances under different load conditions.

Power Supply Design Software: Simulation Requirements

The necessity to simulate each segment of a power supply arises from safety and performance requirements, ensuring the circuit has the expected electrical characteristics. Utilizing SPICE simulations – which incorporate component data and subcircuit models derived from your schematics – is essential for this process. SPICE simulations are instrumental in conducting several crucial types of analysis during the power supply circuit design process.

SPICE Analysis Types for Power Supply Design

Analysis Type

Analysis Description

Transient Analysis

Examines the behavior of voltage, current, and power over time, focusing on the transition from startup to steady-state, providing insights into how the power supply initiates and stabilizes.

Noise Analysis

Helps display how input noise is converted into output noise, impacting the circuit's overall performance.

AC Analysis

Involves frequency sweeps across different sections of the power supply to gauge the circuit's response to various frequencies.

Parameter Sweeps

By varying circuit values (e.g., resistances, capacitances), designers can optimize the circuit design for enhanced performance.

Through parameter sweeps, designers can experiment with different values for circuit components to fine-tune the system's performance. For designers looking for intelligent power supply design software, OrCAD X is a great choice. Specifically, it has all the essential capabilities that you’d expect, including SPICE simulation, library capabilities, optimization tools, and schematic capture abilities. Furthermore, it also has a variety of additional unique design capabilities for power supplies.  

PSpice Integrated with OrCAD X: Advanced Power Supply Design Software Capabilities

Software Capability 

Description of Capability 

Constraint Definitions

Ensures adequate spacing and physical constraints are met, preventing issues like overheating and short circuits in power supply circuits. Especially useful for high-voltage power supplies.

3D Export Functionality

Enables the export of 3D design data, useful for thermal analysis to determine heat sink placement.  

PSpice Magnetic Designer 

PSpice, comes integrated with OrCAD X, and simplifies the design for transformers and DC inductors by automating simulation models generation. Facilitates rapid prototyping of transformers, aiding designers in constructing power supply components efficiently.

PSpice C/C++ Interface Integration

PSpice advancements have led to a 5X enhancement in simulating switching regulators. The integration of a C/C++ interface enables the simulation of systems incorporating digital control loops, thereby improving efficiency in high-power applications.

Using OrCAD X for Your Power Supply Needs

Cadence's new OrCAD X contains an advanced simulation tool for power supply design through PSpice, in addition to circuit analysis capabilities from stress analysis, efficiency calculations, and optimization for thermal performance. It allows engineers to accurately test and improve their power supply systems under real-world conditions. Start your free trial of OrCAD X today and transform your design process.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. To learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.