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Apple grants Finisar $390M for research & production on laser tech used in iPhone X

Apple on Wednesday announced plans to pay U.S. firm Finisar — which manufactures the VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers) used in the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera — $390 million out of its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

The sum should let Finisar "exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production," Apple said. The company also confirmed that Finisar's acquisition of a 700,000-square foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Tex. is directly related to Apple.

That facility will be dedicated to VCSELs, and is expected to create over 500 jobs including engineers, technicians, and maintenance staff. It should begin shipping components in the second half of 2018, and along those lines, Apple said that hiring, upgrades, and capital equipment planning are currently in progress.

The company further noted that all of the VCSELs it buys from Finisar will be made in Texas, and that it's working to secure enough renewable energy to cover all U.S. manufacturing efforts.

The Advanced Manufacturing Fund is geared toward support U.S. manufacturing. Apple's first investment took place in May, when it spent $200 million on Corning — the company that makes the Gorilla Glass used in many Apple devices.

The large sum directed to Finisar likely supports the view that Apple intends to expand its use of TrueDepth cameras, for instance putting it on every 2018 iPhone. The company is expected to launch three new phones next year: 5.8- and 6.5-inch OLED models, and a 6.1-inch LCD design.