Today, motherboard manufacturing is a highly automated business process that revolves around strict quality standards and a tight feedback loop. While this sounds like the computer industry’s version of flying by the seat of your pants, it can also appear to be a lot of work.
Much can go wrong during the board manufacturing process. Any given board could have as many as 16 different errors that could lead to a malfunctioning product.
To keep things running smoothly, every single component in the manufacturing chain must be perfectly synchronized with one another. Even with all of these precautions in place. It’s not always easy for outsiders to get their hands on a finished motherboard. Especially if it’s used in an end-user product like a PC or console game machine. That’s why we’re giving you this guide on motherboard manufacturing. So that you know where your brand new components come from and how they’re made.
What is motherboard manufacturing?
When a company such as Nvidia, AMD, or Intel ship a new processor or graphics card to consumers, the company like FS Tech that manufactures the board on which that chip lands is responsible for making sure that design meets the necessary quality standards. This is known as the manufacturing process, and the most common process used to make motherboards is known as JEDD.
In order for a board to be considered JEDD compliant, every manufacturing step has to be 100% accurate and consistent with one another. If a manufacturing step is off by even a single bit, the end result will be a product that didn’t pass quality assurance. If a manufacturing mistake is big enough to affect the final product’s performance or reliability, it’s referred to as a material or yield error.
Motherboard manufacturing is also a highly automated process, which means that each and every piece is precisely guided to ensure that it’s going exactly where it’s supposed to be. If a single piece doesn’t go where it’s supposed to, the entire board has to be replaced or the faulty component has to be removed and replaced with a new one.
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Motherboard Manufacturing Processes
Just like with any other manufacturing operation, the manufacturing process for a motherboard can be broken down into several distinct but interconnected stages. Each of these stages is focused on a different aspect of the process and collectively make up the motherboard manufacturing process.
The following is a list of the most common manufacturing processes that are used to make motherboards and their related subcomponents. Bake Making the primary material, bake, out of a monolithic block of silicon called a “motherboard.”
Casting Making the actual die that contains the ICs, both printed circuit boards (PCB) and ICs themselves, along with other subcomponents like connectors, paste, and thermal paste, and deposit of polymeric material called “casting.” Drilling Drilling holes and creating drain, pad, and trench patterns in the die to help mediate the flow of components between the die and the mounting holes.
DrSimon Drilling the mounting holes and mounting the I/O shield. Inserting Inserting the ICs, either by hand or via automated equipment, into the die. Laying Laying out the ICs on the die so that they are properly aligned and spaced out.
Slewing Drilling the alignment (or routing) and the “crossover” marks that connect the mask and the header. Suckingucking the printed circuit board (PCB) against the I/O shield to help create a more uniform temperature throughout the entire board.
What goes into manufacturing a motherboard?
Motherboard manufacturing is a highly advanced, highly specialized industry that relies heavily on advanced manufacturing technologies. Modern production lines use sophisticated robots, automated equipment. And computer-aided design (CAD) to produce complex boards and components such as the mask, die, and traces.
These equipment vendors play a key role in helping manufacturers create high-quality boards and components by purchasing the raw materials and components necessary to be used in the production line and maintaining a well-trained team of technicians to operate them.
For example, a 40-layer PCB (Printed Circuit Board) can contain as many as 80 different components, including passive circuits and power supply breakdowns, that must be made in exactitude. To produce such a board, a typical facility will use hundreds of machines and thousands of skilled workers.
How motherboards are tested
There are a few different ways that a manufacturer can test a finished motherboard for compliance with JEDD requirements. The first is performance testing, which looks at the maximum performance that a particular part could provide under ideal circumstances.
The second is quality assurance testing, which determines whether the part meets quality standards for performance or quality assurance. While performance testing is not very useful for identifying manufacturing defects. Quality assurance testing can help pinpoint which pieces of the manufacturing chain are having a problem. This is because each round of testing is specific to a particular part. And quantifies how well that part performs under different conditions.
For example, in performance testing, a part may be subjected to increased temperatures, loads, and/or voltage that may not be representative of everyday usage. On the other hand, if the same part is tested under quality assurance conditions. Then it will be tested against realistic usage conditions and temperatures.
The final stages of motherboard manufacturing
After a production line has finished making one or more boards. It’s transferred to a testing facility for final inspections and quality assurance. Here, each part is compared against a set of defined criteria to make sure it meets the required standard.
For example, performance testing might reveal that a part doesn’t perform as well at a given temperature or under a given load as a given part should under these specific conditions. In this case, the test engineer would determine which component of the production line needs to be upgraded and why.
Similarly, quality assurance testing might reveal that a part doesn’t meet the quality standards set by the manufacturer. In which case the engineer would need to determine what went wrong and correct the issue.
What you need to know about motherboard manufacturing
Motherboard manufacturing is a highly automated, highly regulated industry that is overseen and monitored by several countries around the world. As such, companies that practice accurate and reliable manufacturing have an advantage over those that don’t.
In addition to following JEDD process, companies like Nvidia, AMD, and Intel. Also employ quality assurance and regulatory monitoring programs to help ensure that their manufacturing partners are complying with the relevant safety and regulatory standards. With these programs in place, it’s possible to identify and track manufacturing problems across the supply chain.
For example, during the testing process, faulty equipment could reveal itsself by producing defective boards. If a manufacturer were to be found compliant with the rules. That would indicate that the equipment was functioning properly and would indicate no problem with the final product.
Motherboards make up a large portion of a computer’s interior. And feature a variety of critical components such as the CPU, memory, graphics card, and SSD. When it comes to Motherboard manufacturing. It’s important to know how each stage of the process works. So you can identify potential issues early on and prepare for them.
Manufacturers use a variety of techniques to test boards for quality and compliance with JEDD requirements. And these can also be used to identify potential manufacturing issues. If a manufacturer is found to be noncompliant. That could indicate a problem with the design of the board. Or an issue with the quality assurance process used to test boards for compliance. Learn more…