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AT&T, Mitsubishi launching joint venture at Orlando plant

An American Telephone & Telegraph Co. electronics plant in Orlando is the site of an unprecedented joint venture with Mitsubishi Electric Corp. to produce semiconductors for the international market. The five-year agreement between Mitsubishi and AT&T Microelectronics, an AT&T business unit based in Berkeley Heights, N.J., involves technology sharing, worldwide marketing and manufacturing of SRAM microchips, company officials said.

SRAM is an acronym for static random access memory - a type of computer memory chip that stores information as long as the power is maintained. SRAMs are used in computer workstations, advanced personal computers, super minicomputers and telecommunications equipment.

AT&T's Orlando semiconductor manufacturing plant, which employs about 750 people, will build the chips. Japan's Mitsubishi will provide design and engineering expertise.

The Mitsubishi deal announced Thursday will have no immediate effect on employment at AT&T's Orlando plant, said Randy Berridge, an AT&T spokesman in Orlando.

This is the first time that AT&T has teamed up with a Japanese company in the semiconductors business, said company officials, who refused to disclose terms of the multimillion-dollar deal.

AT&T hopes the venture will enhance the company's efforts to sell chips on the international market, officials said.

"Our goal is to rapidly increase sales worldwide to original-equipment manufacturers," William J. Warwick, president of AT&T Microelectronics, said in a statement.

Some preliminary work on the SRAM chip already has begun in Orlando, AT&T said.

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