Apple announced a substantial investment in Finisar. Apple is giving Finisar $390 million to build a new 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas. Finisar is going to hire 500 people to work on the laser sensor in the TrueDepth camera in the iPhone X.
Today’s investment is part of Apple’s commitment to invest $1 billion in U.S.-based companies with its Advanced Manufacturing Fund.
Apple says that Finisar is going to work on both research & development and high-volume production of optical communications components. The most complicated components are the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) used in the iPhone X for Face ID, Animoji, Portrait mode and other face-mapping technologies. But Finisar also works on proximity sensors including the ones in the AirPods.
And it’s quite easy to understand why Apple is investing in Finisar. There are simply not enough suppliers in this field today. In the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, the company will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than the entire VCSEL production in the world during the fourth quarter of 2016. So Apple needs to foster production.
The new facility should be up and running at some point during the second half of 2018.