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Based on extensive numerical calculations, quantum-dot (QD) amplifiers are predicted to offer higher output power and lower noise figure compared to bulk as well as quantum well amplifiers. The underlying physical mechanisms are analyzed in detail, leading to the identification of a few key requirements that QD amplifiers should meet in order to achieve such superior linear characteristics. The existence of a highly inverted wetting layer or barrier region, acting as a carrier reservoir, is central to this performance enhancement. It is shown that amplified spontaneous emission acts to decrease the inversion of the wetting layer states, thus helping to quench the gain of these states, which might otherwise dominate.