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Finisar to Set up Fiber Optic Plant

US-based Finisar Corp, a leading producer of gigabit fiber optic subsystems, is setting up its first plant in Malaysia. The company will be jumpstarting its entry by taking over an existing plant recently vacated by disk drive manufacturer Seagate Technology, Inc, at the Kinta Free Trade Area, near Ipoh.

Finisar president and chief executive officer Jerry Rawls said the purchase terms have been signed with Seagate and the deal will likely be concluded in May.

"Many ex-Seagate staff will be offered positions, but we are still formulating plans for the exact staffing levels," said Rawls.

Seagate abandoned the six-year-old plant early this year and consolidated its component operations in Penang, displacing over 2,000 workers.

Finisar will be manufacturing its range of high-performance optical subsystems that enable gigabit-speed data communications over local area networks (LAN), storage area networks (SAN), and cable television networks (CATV). The company will be retooling and equipping the plant, formerly used to manufacture disk drive recording heads, to handle the new processes.

Rawls said the company chose Malaysia because of its competitive advantage over other countries in the region. "We were attracted to Malaysia's good availability of trained workers, affordable costs, political stability and solid infrastructure. Our goal eventually is to ship products directly to end customers in Asia and elsewhere," he said.

Finisar's transmitters, receivers, and transceivers for gigabit-rate fiber optic communication are deployed in servers, hubs, switches and storage arrays. The company also designs and manufactures a range of network products, including fiber optic link extenders, which extend the distance of enterprise data networks for point-to-point links up to 120km.

Breakthrough Product Line

In February, Finisar introduced FTRX, a breakthrough product line and the industry's first 10-Gigabit Ethernet serial optical transceivers (see Fig). The product has a smaller footprint than traditional telecom devices, and provides significant cost savings to networking and telecommunications equipment manufacturers.

To transmit signals at these higher data rates, traditional telecommunications devices either use lasers in combination with external modulators, or multiplex four lasers, each operating at 2.5Gbps.

"In terms of cost, the use of high-speed serial transmission wins every time over wavelength division multiplexing (WDM). Four channel 2.5Gbps WDM solutions for 10Gbps requires more components and complexity than a single high-speed serial transmission link. The cost savings are especially important in upgrading metropolitan area networks (MAN), where a different set of economics apply, compared to long-haul wide area networks (WAN)," stated Rawls.

The FTRX can transmit and receive at bit rates up to 10.7Gbps by relying on a single 1310nm distributed feedback laser (DFB) or 850nm vertical cavity emitting laser (VCSEL).

by Julian Matthews, Kuala Lumpur

(May 2001 Issue, Nikkei Electronics Asia)

Copyright (c) 1996-2001 Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.