Headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, Kingston is by far the world's largest independent memory manufacturer. From its beginnings in 1987, Kingston has grown to a 27% market share in 2004 and almost $2.5 Billion in sales - which is more than 3 times larger than #2. Perhaps even more important was the 35% growth in revenue for Kingston from 2003 to 2004.

Kingston today manufactures memory at four manufacturing locations: US, Malaysia, China, and Taiwan. The four manufacturing plants have more than 35 Surface Mount Technology (SMT) lines for producing virtually every kind of memory available in the world. This includes the DIMMs, So-DIMMs, and flash memory that are of most interest in the Computer and Digital Imaging markets. Within these product categories, Kingston manufactures a full range of products, from OEM parts to their popular Value RAM series to Enthusiast-oriented Hyper X products.

Since we were in Taiwan for Computex, Kingston kindly invited AnandTech to take a closer look at their Taiwan manufacturing facility.

The Kingston Taiwan manufacturing plant is about an hour southwest of Taipei, in a huge technology park in Hsin-Chu, a city of about 350,000 near Taiwan's west coast. Hsin-Chu is the home to facilities for many familiar names in Computers and Technology.

The Hsin-Chu manufacturing plant was opened in 1997 and this is also the location of Kingston's Taiwan business offices.

Kingston Taiwan is a memory assembler, which means that finished memory chips are shipped to the plant where they assemble the memory using SMT technology. There are no wafer manufacturing capabilities in the Taiwan plant.

The Hsin-Chu plant has 4 floors of SMT lines producing DDR, DDR2, and flash memory during our plant visit.

Raw materials


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  • gibhunter - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    I have nothing against Kingston, in fact I have bought plenty of their ram before and I'll keep buying it in the future, but I won't believe that you test every module you sell by hand in a computer test.

    As for reliability, Kingston may be a bit more reliable as I've never had issues with their memory (compared to others) then again, Kingston is usually a bit less agressive with their timings than the competition.
  • Houdani - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    Typos, sheesh.

    ...binned down to *lesser* speed grades...

    ...when their *cache* is flawed...
  • Houdani - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    Heather, you imply that you have a rather high failure rate when you say that the cost of RMAs would be insane [if you shipped without screening everything].

    >>Any insight as to why failure rates would be so high?

    >>What happens with the failed product ... do they get binned down to less speed grades (not unlike how Pentiums get turned into Celerons when their cash is flawed)?

    >>How much margin do you give the memory? Meaning, if it's rated at PC3200, how much faster do you test it to ensure that it's not operating right at the edge of ability -- i.e. fail at PC3202?

    I know you likely cannot answer some of these questions, but anything you can offer is welcomed.
  • KTCSkins - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    Sorry to hear that. Would be intersted to know where you purchased these from.
  • patrick0 - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    Testing DIMMs? Are those testers former Microsoft employees? I've had only 3 ValueDimms DDR400 CL2.5. Two of them were just broke, and the last wasn't able to run at DDR400.
    This "testing" is why I'll never buy again Kingston.
  • unclebud - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    i have to visit some friends in Taiwan this year. any links or review of non-trance/non-top 40 music nightclubs would be sincerely appreciated. thanks for the article. btw. really fun in light of Sunday + Monday Reply
  • KTCSkins - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    Thank you very much.
  • yacoub - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    I run Kingston in my current system and after this article and Heather's post, I'll likely buy them again when I upgrade my rig in the coming weeks. Reply
  • KTCSkins - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    Hello - I can guarantee that the testing procedures done at Kingston are not B.S. I have worked at Kingston for over thirteen years and have never seen it done any other way. Yes, it does take a lot of time and effort, but it is worth it. Sometimes that does involved a slight premium, but we are very competitive in our prices. We don't want to have returns and value the quality that we have in our products. Sure, we could cut corners and make things easier, but the rate of Returned Merchandise would be insane and that price is a lot higher to pay.

    Some of our motherboard testing is done by hand depending on the quantity and some automated. We have an exceptional test engineering team who have patented many of Kingston's testers to make Kingston memory the utmost in quality.

    Again, I guarantee you that we don't just put on a show just because we have a visitor. I know that other manufacturers might do this, but it will come back to haunt them. We want to show people what we really do well.

    As far as Kingston being in the Enthusiast market - we are definitely there. We don't launch products until we find that they are not only just useful in the market, but can be done on the quality level that we expect and done not just for a handful of people, but to the market as a whole. Any company can come out with releases that show a higher, faster performing cards. But often speeds and performance are only validated on an engineering sampled board with beta bios etc. We want to make sure that outside of one board and one person that the masses reach these numbers. We launch products that aren't vaporware/paper launches. That is what makes us unique. It may look like we are behind sometimes in regards to speeds for enthusiasts, but we are definitely not. We just launch when we feel that it is useful to the market and we can reproduce more than just a handful.

    I welcome questions.

    - Thanks,
    Heather Skinner
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - link

    #15 & #18 - I have seen wave solder machines used for mixed motherboards with some SMT as well, but you are probably correct that the machines I saw were reflow soldering. I have changed the article to say "SMT-soldering stations" which should be a correct description in the absence of more info. Reply

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