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We have developed a microscopic model for a semiconductor diode laser which includes the physical transport of carriers, the quantum processes associated with the quantum wells (capture and gain) and the photon modes, all self consistently as a function of the device bias. Detailed comparison to experiment for electrical and optical properties shows the reliability of the model. Simulation shows that in a conventional multi-quantum well active layer device, the carrier distribution among the wells can be quite non-uniform. We propose that this is the fundamental explanation for the dependence of high speed operation on p-doping.