Kingston has four factories: Penang, Malaysia, with a manufacturing capacity of 500 thousand memory modules per month; Hsin-Chu, Taiwan, with a manufacturing capacity of 1.7 million memory modules per month; Fountain View, California, USA, with a manufacturing capacity of 800 thousand memory modules per month; and Shanghai, China, with a manufacturing capacity of 2.5 million modules per month. We had the change of visiting Kingston’s bigger factory in Shanghai, China.
Kingston memory modules are exclusively designed on their headquarters, in Fountain View, California, USA. This is the same place where memory chips using Kingston brand are packed, i.e., Kingston buys the wafer from a wafer manufacturer, cuts, packs and marks their own brand on the chips. Kingston also use third-party memory chips, like Hynix and Elpida. During our factory tour the modules that were being manufactured used chips from Hynix.
Shanghai factory has eight SMT insertion lines. Kingston is building a new factory where the goal is to have 12 SMT lines to double their manufacturing capacity, reaching 5 million memory modules per month this year.
According to Kingston, they have four factories in order to prevent distribution problems in the case of a natural disaster or fire.
The factory we visited is located on Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai. Factories located inside this Free Trade Zone don’t pay local sales tax (17% VAT, Value Added Tax) if the product is exported. If the product is sold on the local market, the tax is charged.
Memory modules manufacturing process is similar to the process used on other kinds of boards. The difference is that memory modules don’t have DIP insertion components like connectors and electrolytic capacitors, so the manual insertion stage doesn’t exist. Thus the memory module production is restricted to the SMT line. To better understand the manufacturing process used on boards, read our ABIT Factory Tour article, where we explained this process in details.