GIGABYTE Nan-Ping Factory and Black Edition testing facility tour 2014
GIGABYTE Nan-Ping Factory
GIGABYTE Nan-ping factory is not a new topic for our romanian readers – we have been there for the first time in 2010 and we saw how a motherboard is born and all the stages that you need to go through in order to transform a PCB and a few components in a brand new motherboard. However, 4 years later we took the tour again, to see what has changed, to show the factory to our english readers and also to check out the new Black Edition testing facility.
There are 4 GIGABYTE factories in Asia, two of them in Taiwan and two of them in China. We visited the Nan-Ping factory, which has an area of 45000 square meters and over 1100 employees, being able to sustain the production of 250000 motherboards, 50000 graphic cards and 5000 server motherboards per month. However, I must state this from the very beginning, we are talking about an assembly line – the custom made PCBs and the components are turned into final products here, but they are manufactured by GIGABYTE’s suppliers (Foxconn for instance).
The factory has 8 floors, each with specific functions, and we visited the most important 3, namely the SMT, DIP and PCBA floors. Let us begin our tour with the SMT floor and see how a motherboard is made!
Surface Mount Technology
Surface Mount Technology is the process used to attach the small components (Surface Mount Devices – SMD) to the PCB. This is the first step in manufacturing a motherboard, and it is also divided into different stages – preparing the PCB, adding the solder, mounting the SMDs, soldering them to the PCB and finally checking that everything went well.
In order to better understand the fast pace in which things are done here, at the bottom of this page you can see a short clip showing how the SMDs are mounted on the PCB.
After the components are mounted on the PCB, the motherboard goes through a soldering process, using a series of special ovens. Before getting to the next stage of the manufacturing process, each board has to go through a preliminary inspection. After they pass the inspection, they are stored with the help of a very impressive fully automated storing system, and then they are shipped down bellow to the DIP section, where the large components are attached to the motherboard.
Manual assembly – DIP
You would imagine that when you make a motherboard you put the PCB and the components in a special automated line and one hour later a new motherboard pops out on the other end, right? In reality the process is much longer and complicated and it takes 5 days from the moment when a PCB is loaded in the first SMT machine up to the moment when it is packed and ready to deliver to customers.
Lots of people are involved in this process – if the mounting of the SMDs is automated, the mounting of the larger components (PCI slots, DDR slots, etc) is done manually, by an army of workers. After they mount the components on the PCB, the motherboard goes though an oven again and the components are soldered to the PCB. After that, the back of the motherboard is polished, so all residues are taken aside, a team of workers mounts the heatsinks and another team has a close look at the motherboards before they reach the quality check department.
On the same floor as the DIP process takes place, you can also find the quality control department. The functionality of all components and connectors is checked here, and the motherboard also goes through a burn-in process where it is tested for functionality between -15 and 70 oC.
Each employee uses 3 machines simultaneously to test 3 motherboards. They bar code is scanned, so everything is centralized and the system always knows how many motherboards fail the tests and how many motherboards pass. And again, everything is done at a very fast pace, as you would expect.
At the same floor with the SMT mounting, there is a very special testing facility called the Black Edition Testing Facility. Unlike regular motherboards, who go to the packaging department after QC, the Black Edition motherboards have to go through another testing process.
3000 motherboards enter the Black Edition Testing Facility each week, and they are tested non-stop for 168 hours (7 days) using 3DMark and BitCoin mining. Only after a motherboard has passed the non-stop 7 days stress test it is awarded the Black Edition certification and it is sent to the packaging department.
Unlike regular motherboards, the Black Edition motherboards come with 5 years warranty. Also, a little birdie told me that those who register their board on the Black Edition website will be included in a lucky draw, and 3 lucky guys will get to go to Taipei at the end of the year to visit the Black Edition Facility and see with their own eyes how this motherboards are tested.
Besides the photos, I asked our friends from OverclockingTV for a full video material so you can better understand what happens in the factory and how the Black Edition motherboards are tested.
The last floor we visited was the packaging section. Here, all the motherboards, the accessories, the handbooks, CDs and so on are put one by one in the retail box. In the end, the retail boxes are put in bigger cardboard boxes and those are used to ship them to their destination (Europe, Asia, etc).
This is where our tour ends, but also the long road that the motherboards take through the factory – now the motherboard is ready to be shipped to the customer. And if you ever buy a GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-UD5HL, made in June 2014, it is very possible that I was there, watching it come to life, in the Nan-Ping GIGABYTE factory, in Taiwan, where GIGABYTE motherboards are born!
And you also witnessed it’s birth, by reading this article. And who knows, if you guys like this type of article maybe we will do it again!