ATARI CORP. MAY TAKE SOVIET CHIPS FOR PCS

ATARI CORP. MAY TAKE SOVIET CHIPS FOR PCS

In what would be the first deal of its kind, Atari Corp. is negotiating with the Soviet Union to swap personal computers for Soviet-made memory chips.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said it is considering a deal with a state-owned semiconductor plant in the city of Zelenograd - the center for much of the country's high-technology research. In return for computers, the plant would provide Atari with 256K DRAMs, a basic component of many Atari products."This thing came out of nowhere, and it's moving very fast," said Gregory Pratt, chief financial officer for Atari.

For the past several weeks, Atari engineers have been testing the Soviet chips to see if they meet Western standards. And while there have been a few problems, "Basically, the parts work," said David Harris, senior vice president for the company's international division.

An essential building block used in nearly all electronic devices, Drams - dynamic random-access memories - are notorious in the computer industry for wild fluctuations in supply and price. But Atari said it sees the Soviet chips primarily as a source of barter profit, rather than as a hedge against its Western suppliers.

"We are interested in penetrating the massive market in the Soviet Union," Mr. Harris said. "We'll look at any way that makes sense to do that."