Apple will invest $390 million to Finisar Corp to increase production of chips that power high-profile iPhone X features including Face ID.
Finisar is a manufacturer of optical communications components, and the $390 million investment will enable the Texas-based company to increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). VCSELs power some of Apple's most popular new features, including Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies made possible with 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 to traditional edge-emitting lasers for many emerging applications. Apple has adopted depth-sensing technology in recent years, leading to the development and production of advanced VCSELs. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple says it will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured worldwide over a similar time period.
As a result of Apple's investment, Finisar will transform a long-shuttered, 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, into the high-tech VCSEL capital of the US. Apple's award will create more than 500 jobs at the Sherman facility, including engineers, technicians and maintenance teams. When combined with the company's nearby plant in Allen, Texas, Finisar's payroll in Northern Texas is expected to be $65 million. Hiring, capital equipment planning and infrastructure upgrades are already underway at the Sherman facility, which is expected to begin shipping in the second half of 2018.
Apple has committed to investing at least $1 billion with US-based companies as part of the fund. In May, Apple announced Corning Incorporated had been awarded the first award from the fund - $200 million to support their R&D, capital equipment needs and glass processing.