13 December 2017
Apple awards Finisar $390m to increase production of VCSELs
In the latest award from its $1bn Advanced Manufacturing Fund, Apple is awarding fiber-optic communications component and subsystem maker Finisar Corp of Sunnyvale, CA, USA $390m as part of its commitment to support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers.
The award will enable Finisar to increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). VCSELs power some of Apple’s new features, including Face ID facial recognition, Animoji and Portrait-mode selfies enabled by the iPhone X TrueDepth camera as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods.
VCSEL technology is a better performing, more compact and cost-efficient solution compared with traditional edge-emitting lasers for many emerging applications. Apple has rapidly adopted depth-sensing technology in recent years, driving the development and production of more advanced VCSELs for consumer electronics. In fourth-quarter 2017, Apple will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured worldwide in previous quarters.
As a consequence of Apple’s commitment, Finisar will transform a 700,000ft2 manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas (which has been shuttered since 2012) into a fabrication plant for VCSEL manufacturing. Apple’s funding will create more than 500 jobs at the Sherman facility, including engineers, technicians and maintenance teams. Combined with Finisar’s nearby fab in Allen, Texas, Finisar’s payroll in Northern Texas is expected to be $65m. Hiring, capital equipment planning and infrastructure upgrades are already underway at the Sherman facility, which is expected to begin shipping VCSELs in second-half 2018.
All of the VCSELs that Apple buys from Finisar will be made in Texas. Consistent with Apple’s commitment to the environment, Finisar intends to procure enough renewable energy to cover all of its Apple manufacturing in the USA.
“VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we’ve ever developed and we’re thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable,” says Apple’s chief operating officer Jeff Williams. “Our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse,” he adds.
“When you combine our proven ability to consistently manufacture exceptional products with our new state-of-the-art Sherman facility, we’re confident we can achieve our shared goal of providing consumers with incredibly exciting features,” says Finisar’s Jerry S. Rawls.