Interviews with Chairman and the President
with Microway's Chairman of the Board, Ann Fried, who holds a Bachelor's
Degree in Mathematics from Barnard College and an MAT from
Q: Can you tell us about your
background and interests on both a professional and a personal
A: I worked for both MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Digital
Equipment Corp. before running an FAA Certified Flight School, FAA Part 135 Charter Service and
a private aircraft maintenance facility. At Lincoln Lab I was a member of
the team that did the first digital signal processing of medical
x-rays in the late sixties. At Digital
I was a member of the design team for MUMPS for the PDP-11.
MUMPS is a medical data base program widely used in the seventies.
I have been a member of the Boards of Plymouth Rotary and my
local Temple. I also served as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Intel Channel Partner Program Premier Members for two years. I enjoy travel, gardening, classical music,
reading, and my grandchildren.
Q: What do you think the company's greatest strengths
and achievements are?
A: Microway's greatest strengths lie in our employees'
ability to design solutions to meet our customers' needs.
We have many of the same customers today who developed their careers
in technical computing since 1982. The company grew from providing
numeric hardware and software to the point where we are now
supplying large, custom configured clusters, InfiniBand and storage products for those who
have complex computational needs.
We provide a team approach to solving configuration and software
issues. Our greatest achievement is surviving for almost three
decades in the computer industry. This took hard work and
commitment to excellence, not often found in an industry where
growth tends to be explosive and economic downturns take their
toll on companies not able to weather storms.
Q: A lot of high-tech companies come and go. What's
your secret to success?
A: Microway's secret to success is consistency. We
provide honest advice on solutions, excellent design, superior
tech support, and careful construction and delivery of product.
We have done these things consistently for almost 27 years.
Several of our employees have been with us for over 20 years.
Q: Where do you see things going in the future?
A: I expect Microway will continue to grow because
we service the university, R&D, and financial markets.
We do not sell personal computers, but sophisticated computational
solutions. In 2001, we purchased a large manufacturing facility
to facilitate this growth. Microway owes its growth to the
high level of sophistication of its customer base. These are
well-educated users of high technology who are fairly immune
to empty marketing claims, and very responsive to honesty
and price/performance value. It makes for a nice "marriage
of convenience" of sorts for both our customers and ourselves.
Microway's President, Stephen Fried, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Physics
from Brown University and is the driving force behind Research
Q: Can you tell us about your professional achievements
previous to Microway?
A: I worked as a Scientist at Avco Everett Research
Laboratory essentially doing atomic and laser physics. While
there I co-invented the HF chemical laser that the Reagan
administration proposed to put into space as part of the Strategic
Defense Initiative. In 1979, I went to Physical Sciences,
Inc. as a Program Manager doing chemical engineering and designing
fuel cell power plants. As part of that work I figured out
how to speed up calculations on the TRS-80 (the first primitive
PCs) by roughly a factor of 10. In 1981, I figured out that another
way of doing the same thing - but in a more advanced sort
of way - would be to do these same computations on something
called a math coprocessor.
Q: What led you to co-found Microway?
A: I had made a proposal at PSI to do some code for
the math coprocessors because what I had done was in machine
code, and to make it practical you have to be able to do it
in higher level languages. They were interested in the idea
but basically decided not to do it. We thought it was a good
idea as a business concept, so we decided to do it at home
in the evenings...We very quickly owned about
80 or 90% of the market share for math coprocessors in PCs
because we had the only software. Our software was really very,
Q: What do you think sets Microway apart from the competition?
A: We're a rock solid company; we've been in business
for a long time. We know both the software and the hardware
side of the business as well as the parallel processing side
of the business...The other thing is that we have great tech
support and we can execute - which is to say that if we decide
to do something and it's possible to do it, we can do it.
A lot of people claim they can do it but they never have.
Executing on an idea is not as easy as it sounds.
Q:Where do you see the most potential for improvement in high performance computing in the next eighteen months?
These are exciting times in our field.
Computer scientists today have easy access to 64-bit multi-core processors and high-speed interconnects, including InfiniBand and 10G ethernet. Companies like Mellanox, whose silicon we use in our FasTree switches and TriCom HCAs, are taking connectivity to new heights and quad-core Xeons and Opterons are offering significant increases in compute performance. GPU and RPU/FPGA innovations will offer powerful advances for enterprises and researchers in the near future.