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Finisar hits VCSEL milestone as new fab opens

Ten years after previous owners Honeywell began commercial production, Finisar ships its 50 millionth VCSEL.

As it celebrated the official opening of its new manufacturing facility in Allen, TX, optical component and module manufacturer Finisar revealed that it has now shipped 50 million VCSELs.

The Californian company has been renovating the Allen fab over the past year-and-a-bit at an estimated cost of $13 million. With an additional MOCVD reactor now refurbished and a second wafer fabrication line in place, the facility is ready to support the production of 4 Gb/s products to upgrade storage area networks (SAN), and 10 Gb/s VCSELs for local area network applications.

"This state-of-the-art facility will enable us to power more of our customers applications, including video-on-demand, high-definition TV, and mobile computing," said Finisar chief executive Jerry Rawls.

Over 300 people now work at Finisar s Allen site, which is expected to easily meet the company s current production requirements.

The 50 millionth VCSEL was officially sold to high-profile customer HP. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Edward Flynn, the director of the SAN infrastructure unit within HP s StorageWorks division, described the milestone as an extraordinary achievement.

Commercial production of VCSELs began at Honeyell Labs Richardson, TX, facility back in 1996. Finisar acquired Honeywell s VCSEL business, including the Richardson facility, in March 2004 and created the autonomous Advanced Optical Component (AOC) division.

Unlike many of its rivals in the same sector, Finisar has enjoyed very strong growth in demand for its data communications products over the past couple of years, something that led to the expansion of AOC's production capacity.

"We worked our way back from one of the most difficult market downturns in history and succeeded in achieving our plan for returning to profitability," said Rawls in response to Finisar s progress in 2006.

• In a deal that it says will free up its operational cash flow between now and 2010, Finisar has agreed to exchange $100 million worth of existing "outstanding notes" for a new series of convertible notes.

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