During Computex, I was offered a chance to go see how a motherboard is actually produced. GIGABYTE invited me and other media on a trip to see one of their three factories. We were bused off to the Nanping factory in Taiwan. To understand how a motherboard is made, it's important to understand what a motherboard is.
A motherboard is a PCB which facilitates the harmonious interactions between different ICs and components. Computer motherboards consist of a PCB with traces, chipsets (such as Intel's Z97 PCH), other ICs (SuperIOs, Network, Audio, Clock Generators, PWMs, etc.), electrical components (resistors, capacitors, inductors, MOSFETs, diodes, etc.), and physical interfaces (PCI-E ports, audio jacks, USB ports, header, jumpers, buttons, etc.). The job of a motherboard manufacturer such as GIGABYTE is to acquire the hardware and knowledge to produce motherboards that keep up with consumer demand.
GIGABYTE's Nanping factory handles only a portion of GIGABYTE's total product output, and GIGABYTE has other factories in China. The Nanping location produces over 400K motherboards a month (about five million a year), which is only about a quarter of GIGABYTE's total motherboard sales each year. The Nanping location also produces a lot of other products such as video cards, servers, laptops, and phones just to name a few. Since its opening 15 years ago, GIGABYTE has been very proud of its Nanping location.
How It's Made
On the left is a floor by floor layout of the factory. We were only shown a few floors and only a section of each floor. On the right is a quick summation of the entire manufacturing process.
I made this diagram to show the hardware side of making a motherboard. There is also an extensive software side, where the BIOS and software for the motherboards is developed and then refined after the product has been launched. In this article, I will focus on the hardware production side of things, specifically the SMT (Surface Mount Technology), DIP (Dual in-line Package), and Q/A (quality assurance).
GIGABYTE tests each board individually as well, and some products are put through burn-in tests to ensure they operate within GIGABYTE's standards. GIGABYTE also has an AS/RS (auto storage and retrieval system) which will store components and products in a totally automated warehouse.
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