SBVS338E March 2020 – December 2021 TPS7A20
Dropout voltage (VDO) is defined as the input voltage minus the output voltage (VIN – VOUT) at the rated output current (IRATED), where the pass transistor is fully on. IRATED is the maximum IOUT listed in the Recommended Operating Conditions table. The pass transistor is in the ohmic or triode region of operation, and acts as a switch. The dropout voltage indirectly specifies a minimum input voltage greater than the nominal programmed output voltage at which the output voltage is expected to stay in regulation. If the input voltage falls to less than the value required to maintain output regulation, then the output voltage falls as well.
For a CMOS regulator, the dropout voltage is determined by the drain-source on-state resistance (RDS(ON)) of the pass transistor. Therefore, if the linear regulator operates at less than the rated current, the dropout voltage for that current scales accordingly. The following equation calculates the RDS(ON) of the device.