Last Monday I flew down to LA, beginning the first leg of my journey into the Far East. The flight over to China is probably one of the longest I've ever been on. Thankfully, the night on the plane started out with one of the worst movies in existence, RPM. Placing David Arquette in a role that requires finesse was only the beginning of the fall. Needless to say, I was out like a light for at least the next eight hours - about the only good thing I missed on the flight was a bowl of ramen. In comparison, I think the noodles would probably have far surpassed the food we were served. I could make some joke about airplane food now, but I will refrain for the time being. It's just too easy.
From there we went to a province in China, Guan Dong, to tour the MSI manufacturing plant. We stayed there for two days in one the swankest hotels I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Following the tour, we went on to Taipei for Computex.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, we had the joy of going through three customs checkpoints on our way to the hotel. As we progressed, the smells seemed to get more and more, shall we say, entertaining. Customs officials got even more so. I don't think a single person in the tour group got a word out of any of them. They seemed rather interested in looking at the passports and then at our faces, maybe it's because we just look alike.
MSI Plant Tour
Anyhow, once we got to the hotel, I don't think there was a single person amongst us who wasn't ready to crash. After freshening up a bit, we went and had dinner with the MSI personnel, and so began the first of many a seafood dish. This would have been just fine, if I didn't lump ocean dwelling creatures into the same category as cockroaches. Soft insides, hard outsides - they're all just bugs. (Bear in mind that this is coming from the guy who only had his first steak while in college.) Although, I was surprised to have spicy Chinese food, it actually had some kick! Most of the fare I find locally is either greasy or salty - bleh.
Disregarding the food, the best part of the whole trip had to have been meeting the people behind all the hardware websites. We ran into a lot of the guys from AnandTech, VIA Hardware, HardOcp, and Lost Circuits - truly a pleasure.
The following day, we got to visit the MSI plant to see how all these motherboards get put together. Upon arrival, we rolled up to the side of the plant; my lord was it big. I was expecting maybe a building or two at most. This place was a massive complex that was only half constructed. The entire compound was capable of feeding and housing the population of the plant. That's right folks; everyone lives there. This would have to be an extremely effective method by which to cut down the number of "I was stuck in traffic" excuses.
Once inside, we gathered in a meeting room for a little pep talk of sorts. From there we went onto tour the plant. Never having toured a plant such as this, everything was rather new to me. I've actually never been in an assembly line plant of any sort; I just pray that I never have to work in one. Eek, the repetitive nature of the job would drive a person mad. In spite of that, MSI manages to keep their employees sane and still produce quality products.
Walking about the assembly lines was just amazing. There was a machine that had motherboards fed into it, below the feed line was a pool of solder. Prior to being sent in, a worker would place motherboard components such as the sockets and PCI slots like Lego pieces. Then as the board rolled through, the bottom half would skim over the solder pool, melting all the connectors, effectively soldering all the necessary components. In just under twenty minutes a working motherboard is completed; each manufacturing line can process up to 3,000 boards per day.