Optical fibre is now the dominant carrier of telecommunication traffic, and there is a continuing trend to higher bit rates in the interest of minimising bit transport costs. Statistical techniques that allow the rigorous design of receivers that offer optimum performance have been developed. At high bit rates, a monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) based approach appears attractive. Through the EUROCHIP initiative, the authors gained access to the GEC-Marconi F20 GaAs MMIC process, and this enabled them to investigate the feasibility of applying the design technique to GaAs based receivers. The paper describes the design approach adopted, focusing in particular on how the CAD tools acquired through ECAD enabled the authors to design a receiver that incorporated the requisite signal processing.