CEO interview: Chip equipment supplier on a rocket trajectory

March 30, 2017 //By Peter Clarke
Metrology and inspection company Unity Semiconductor SAS (Grenoble, France), is experiencing strong growth and expects to double its sales year-on-year in 2017. We asked CEO Gilles Fresquet to explain why and provide some background.

Unity-SC is the recently-formed semiconductor metrology and inspection subsidiary of Fogale Nanotech SA (Nimes, France). From 2009 until 2016 Unity was the semiconductor division of Fogale, a company that uses expertise in capacitive sensing and optical interferometry to address multiple market segments including bioscience, medical, aerospace, civil engineering, automotive and industrial.

Unity sells a range of metrology and inspection tools to the semiconductor industry, capable of addressing process control of front-end processing, mid-end, advanced packaging, and MEMS, substrates. However, in general it supplies the More-than-Moore segment rather than the leading-edge, Fresquet said.


Gilles Fresquet, CEO of Unity-SC

Nonetheless, Unity's customer list is impressive and with 70 units shipped the list includes the world's largest foundries and IDMs; TSMC, Samsung, SK Hynix, Globalfoundries, Infineon, NXP and STMicroelectronics as well as the world's top six packaging companies.

Unity recently introduced the NST series of non-contact full-field profilimetry tools that operate to 0.1nm resolution, which provides an example of its wares. These can be used measure the surface topography of semiconductor wafers in high-volume manufacturing and target image sensor and 3D memory IC production. It is used after chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) to ensure the wafer is ready for the next etch step.

Fresquet explained that parent company Fogale's annual revenues can be "lumpy" as sometimes it develops technologies on behalf of clients and recognizes a large amount of revenue when selling that technology to them. So, while Fogale annual revenues have typically been around €20 million they can go as high as €80 million to €90 million. Fogale employs about 110 full-time employees of which about 80 percent are engineers.

Next: A different trajectory