The Spartan flow: when losing is NOT an option.

Every so often a custom silicon socket comes up at a system company that you simply cannot afford to lose. These are the types of custom silicon sockets that last for generations of a product, in huge and predictable volumes, and for whatever reason they may become available. It’s not easy to predict when a strategic change by a system company will force this to happen, or when your silicon supplier competitor simply screws up, but when it does happen you have to throw every possible tactic and strategy so you earn that spot.

There is no single “spartan flow” because there is no single type of silicon product, and no single system product. So what I want to do in this article is not to prescribe an exact formula for what a spartan flow is, but to communicate a mentality of how to create a spartan flow for your engagement.

The ancient spartans were famous for having laws in their society configured to maximize military proficiency at all costs, focusing all social institutions on military training and physical development. The spartan were willing to make the sacrifices needed to excel in battle, and break the will of their opponent. Just thinking about going against them was a burden on the minds of their enemies.

While there is no single spartan flow, there are areas of focus to any spartan flow plan. And these are the following:

  • Communication. You need to establish effective lines of communication ASAP. It is critical that from day zero the silicon supplier develops the best communication systems possible between its own teams, and also with the system company, so they can focus on quick and effective action and reaction. The classic sales force engagement with the customer engaged with an FAE is usually nowhere near enough if you want to win like a spartan. You need to go all the way possible, and provide a ticket system yourself, or suggest the system company starts their ticket component early if they are willing to do it since they usually want to retain records of the tickets in their servers. You need to identify as soon as possible who are the stakeholders on the system company side that are critical to design in your silicon product, and you need to get them in touch with your stakeholders/engineers. This usually means who is the EE, the SW engineer, the FW engineer, etc… that needs to be in close collaboration with your engineers, and then make sure there is a ticket system, collaboration tools setup (like Google docs and Google sheets, etc…). You want their engineers to get to know your engineers, and invest time with them working on issues and ideas.

There are many ways to optimize your processes, and come up with a spartan flow. This is certainly not the type of development that would be economically feasible for standard opportunities, but when you get an opportunity to get into a huge volume system, and the revenue stream from that is likely to continue coming generation after generation, deploying this spartan flow mentality is certainly worth the money.

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At we specialize in managing custom silicon engagements with our battle tested process. Custom system silicon when done with the assistance of silicon experts puts the system company in control of its own destiny. Hiring silicon experts full time at your company may not be reasonable due to insufficient continuous work for them, and that is why provides you a solution so that you can engage with chip suppliers on custom silicon programs and mitigate all the risks listed above. When purchasing catalog parts for your system, unless you perform similar due diligence to what is described above, you’re trusting but not verifying that your components will be of good quality and not likely to cause yield or other issues when you go to production in high volumes.

Developing custom silicon can have huge benefits from an economic, engineering and market perspective for system companies, but it takes a structured and detailed approach to ensure proper take off and a successful landing. Don’t hesitate to contact us at for any further questions, or help you may require.


  1. Wikipedia article about Sparta

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