|Patriot Memory Factory Tour in Fremont, CA, USA|
Patriot is one of the newest players in the retail memory market and their market share seems to be growing. Their factory, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is smaller than other memory factories we’ve been to, yet they have five full assembly lines – the same number of lines as the old Corsair facilities in Fremont (Corsair has just changed to a new building and they now have six lines). We’ve taken a tour on their factory, which we’ll share with you in this article.
click to enlarge
Figure 1: Overall look of Patriot manufacturing facility.
The memory module manufacturer can buy the memory chips as a final product from a memory manufacturer like Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, etc. The memory chips can be bought untested (a.k.a. UTT chips) and then tested (usually for speed grade) and sorted in-house. Alternatively, the memory module manufacturer can buy the memory wafer, cut the wafer and pack the integrated circuits themselves.
Patriot falls in the first option (during our tour we’ve seen a lot of Samsung chips being used). However, for the high-end memory modules targeted to overclocking, the memory chips come to their factory already tested and hand-picked for the highest speed possible, speeds such as 600 MHz and 700 MHz.
The memory module manufacturing process is quite the same for all memory module manufacturers:
- Apply solder paste to the memory PCB.
- Put the components on the PCB using a technique called SMT, Surface Mount Technology. This process is also known as pick-and-place.
- Send the modules inside an oven, where the solder paste will melt, thus soldering the components.
- Visual inspection.
- Remove the memory modules from their panels (before this process the memory modules are stuck together in a panel, each panel holds five or six memory modules), a process which also known as depanelization.
- SPD programming and quick manual testing (SPD, Serial Presence Detect, is a small EEPROM chip located on the memory module that stores the memory module parameters, such as timings).
- Memory module testing.
- Functional testing.
- Heatsink is attached to the module (if applicable).
- Shipping to customers.
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