SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Unity Semiconductor Corp. has reportedly ousted its chief executive and the company is moving from a fab to an intellectual-property (IP) model, according to sources.
On Unity's Web site, Darrell Rinerson is no longer listed as the company’s chief executive. Rinerson, a founder of Unity, is still a board member, according to the site. Rinerson did not immediately respond to a phone message left at his home.
Unity's Web site lists as president Richard Chernicoff, who is reportedly now in charge of the startup. Sources said the board ousted Rinerson over concerns with the company’s strategy.
After eight years' in R&D, Unity last year finally unveiled its nonvolatile memory technology and also obtained $22 million in funding. The company's technology, called CMOx, is based on the use of new materials called conductive metal oxides. With the technology, Unity claims to have devised a passive rewritable crosspoint memory array that requires no transistors in a memory cell.
Unity (Sunnyvale, Calif.) has been processing 64-kilobit products for two years, 64-megabit products for one year, and is in design of a 64-gigabit product that is now close to tapeout. The 64-Gbit chip was slated for pilot production in the second half of 2010, with volume production in 2Q 2011.
As part of the plan, Unity was looking to build a manufacturing plant or team up with a memory company and use that facility. The company was talking to Fujitsu Ltd. and others, but it’s unclear if a deal went through.
The downturn most likely hurt Unity’s efforts to build a plant. So instead of building a fab-like plant, Unity is now looking at in IP model like that of Rambus Inc. and others, according to a source. "They want to license the technology," according to the source.
David Eggleston, vice president of Unity, declined to comment on the change of management or strategy. "Unity is in the final stage of completing a deal with a major memory company that will advance the state of our CMOx memory technology. As a result, we are unable to comment on the points you have raised at this time," he said in an e-mail.
Drew Lanza, a venture capitalist at Morgenthaler Ventures and member of Unity's board, said: "I don't think I can make many comments. Darrell's role at Unity has changed, but he's still involved. Please meet Rich Chernicoff who is the chief cat herder at Unity these days. Perhaps he can offer up more."