Skip to main content

Working with Power Supply Design Tools

Key Takeaways

  • Discussion of capabilities of modern power supply design tools, including simulation and modeling, component selection and optimization, thermal analysis, efficiency calculation, and compliance checks. 

  • Overview of essential power supply design parameters, such as supply type, input/output voltage and current, isolation, operational temperature, and efficiency.

  • Highlight of several key power supply design tools, including SPICE software (LTspice, PSpice), Cadence Allegro PCB Design and Sigrity Power Integrity Tools, PSIM, and TI’s WEBENCH Power Designer.

Uninterruptable power supply design.

Uninterruptable power supply design.

Power supply design tools give designers support in creating power supplies that convert electrical energy from one form to another to meet specific requirements. As electronics become more complex, the need for stable and efficient power supplies grows. Rather than starting from scratch, power supply design tools allow engineers to work off well-established foundational designs, and reduce time to market. Read on as we explore the significance of power supply design tools and examine some solutions in the market.

Understanding Power Supply Design Tools

Power supply design tools can range from simple calculators for component selection to larger comprehensive suites that offer simulation, thermal analysis, and efficiency optimization.

Power Supply Design Tool Capabilities 



Simulation and Modeling

Enables designers to model and test power supply designs under various conditions virtually, reducing the need for physical prototypes.

Component Selection and Optimization

Includes databases of components for optimal selection based on specifications, costs, and availability, and uses optimization algorithms for the best component combinations.

Thermal Analysis

Simulates thermal performance to identify potential overheating issues, aiding in the adjustment of designs for better thermal management.

Efficiency Calculation

Calculates the efficiency of power supplies under different load conditions, assisting designers in optimizing designs for energy savings.

Compliance and Standardization

Incorporates checks for compliance with relevant standards and regulations, such as IEEE, UL, or CE, simplifying the process of ensuring that designs meet necessary standards.

Traditional Challenges With Power Supply Design

When considering power supply designs, whether they are switch mode power supplies (SMPS), power amplifiers, inverters, or traditional linear voltage regulator circuits, several common challenges arise. These challenges span from ensuring environmental compliance and managing heat dissipation to achieving stable power supply operations and optimizing cost and form factors.

Common Challenges of Power Supply Design 



High Power

Characterization in the lab is challenging, requiring models for high-voltage, high-power IGBT Modules and power semiconductors.

“Multi-Rate” Simulation Problems

Achieving synchronization requires thousands of input-signal cycles.

Magnetic Component Requirements

Special models for “nonlinear magnetics” and other magnetic component specifics may be needed.

Low-Power Design

Testing the performance limits of low-power configurations is required.

Power Dissipation and Thermal Design

Careful consideration of both power dissipation and thermal management strategies is required.

Unified Design Environment

Requires engineers to optimize cost and size by driving PCB layout from simulation results to enhance reliability.

Design Workflow

It can be challenging to get designs right the first time before fabrication, but it is necessary to accelerate product updates for faster market entry and reduce time spent on board respins.

Combat Design Challenges With Cadence’s Power Supply Design Tools 

Cadence’s Allegro PCB Design and Sigrity Power Integrity tools offer helpful features like the PowerTree Utility for graphical Power Delivery Network analysis (used for optimizing power distribution for stability and efficiency), early design cycle analysis capabilities, and layout engineer-driven DC analysis. These tools streamline the design and optimization process and address the complexities of power integrity, including voltage and current challenges.

Both OrCAD X, targeted towards small to medium teams, and Allegro X, targeted towards large enterprises, feature MCAD collaboration. Furthermore, their ability for concurrent PCB layout and integrated signal & power analyses make them both crucial power supply design tools. This allows designers working in small, medium, and enterprise-scale teams to elevate their designs further, boost efficiency, and bring their ideas to life.

PSpice for Power Design 

SPICE software is widely used for modeling power supplies.  Cadence's PSpice is a leading SPICE simulation tool that combines native analog, mixed-signal, and advanced analysis engines. It provides a complete circuit simulation and verification solution, enabling engineers to prototype their designs efficiently, with the largest model library available.

What Can PSpice Do?

PSpice Solution

Solution Description

Stability Improvement

Analyze stability with frequency response and Bode plots for mixed-signal designs.


Simulate switching regulators accurately, even with extensive transactions.


Validate manufacturability and reliability, including thermal aspects.

Parametric Analysis

Explore solution space to prevent unusual behavior in extreme conditions.

Simulation & Verification

Provide a comprehensive environment for system design and verification in power electronics.

Model Libraries

House extensive component libraries for varied designs.

Magnetic Design

Design and simulate magnetic components effectively.

Technology Enhancements

Improve performance in switching regulator simulations and digital control loop integration.

PSpice software comes integrated with OrCAD X schematic capture software for both analog and mixed-signal designs. Learn more and try out a free trial of OrCAD X and PSpice here.

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.