The three-terminal, adjustable linear regulator has been around since 1976, and its essential architecture has changed very little. What if you throw away the voltage reference and replace it with a precision current source? The result is a giant leap forward in linear regulator capability, performance and versatility. This paper discusses the LT3080—the first adjustable linear regulator to do just that. This deceptively simple architectural change allows this new regulator to be directly paralleled to spread the current load and thus spread dissipated heat among the integrated circuits (ICs). This makes it possible to use linear regulators in high output current, all-surface-mount applications where only a limited amount of heat can be dissipated in any single spot on a board.