Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gigabyte Plant Tour

Today's Plant tour is of the Gigabyte Nan-Ping Factory in Taiwan. To provide some background, GIGABYTE, which was founded in 1986, has become one of the world's largest motherboard manufacturers. In addition to motherboards, GIGABYTE has further expanded its product portfolio to include graphics cards, notebook and desktop PCs, digital home entertainment appliances, networking servers, and other electronic products.

Gigabyte allowed several sites to provide plant tour coverage, so there is both a short, 2 minute video made by Firing Squad (2006), and detailed virtual tour with commentary from PCStats (2005). The factory assembles both motherboards and graphics cards, and is a great primer for those who have never looked at the detailed steps involved in making today's latest electronics. Many people do not realize that the whole process of manufacturing PCBs and similiar devices is very manual labor intesive, and therefore is almost always performed offshore from the US.

"Without a doubt, motherboards are the most complex and essential part of the
modern PC. Not only do they hold the chipsets that pass data from peripherals,
drives and memory to the processor, they also provide slots and ports for all
your other system components and the circuits through which all data must pass.
Perhaps surprisingly then, motherboards get very little respect in the computing
press as compared to other components. They are perpetually the team player and
not the star of the show, and are generally priced as such.

With this in mind, it's surprising to learn the amount of work and machinery involved in manufacturing a single motherboard. We'd vaguely imagined some sort of stamping process where all components are slapped onto the bare board in one step and soldered, before being boxed in a big room full of bored workers. Sure there'd
have to be some testing, but how intense could it be?"

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