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A single-chip ultra-high gain distributed amplifier (DA) was developed using commercial GaAs PHEMT foundry for 40-Gb/s base band applications. Two seven-section DAs are directly coupled using a lumped dc level-shift circuit. The dc bias level of the second-stage DA can be tuned using the level-shift circuit for optimum gain. The gain of each DA stage has been optimized using a novel active feedback cascode topology, which allows the gain bandwidth product to be maximized while avoiding instability problems. The fabricated single-chip DA with a size of 2.1 mm × 2.3 mm showed a high gain of 28 dB, and an average noise figure of 4.6 dB with a 41 GHz bandwidth. The corresponding transimpedance gain was 62 dBΩ and the input noise current density was 14.5 pA/√Hz. The gain bandwidth product (GBWP) is 1030 GHz, which corresponds to the highest performance using GaAs technology for 40 Gb/s applications.