IBM's New Xeon M5 X86 Servers Tackle Security FUD

IBM beat back security critics Monday, unleashing a new M5 server portfolio that prominently feature advanced built-in security. The move is sure to quell critics of its pending $2.3 billion sale of its x86 server business to China-owned Lenovo expected to be completed this fall.

The IBM M5 server line is based on Intel's latest Xeon E5-2600 v3 processor platform, also revealed Monday, that allow IBM to deliver huge performance gains along with serving up efficiency and reliability advances.

Adalio Sanchez, general manager for IBM x86 and PureSystems Solutions, told CRN that the M5 servers adopt an enhanced version of what IBM calls its Trusted Platform Assurance technology that is based on industry-standards. IBM also said it added security features designed to help fight off malware attacks for the System X and Flex systems announced Monday.

[Related: Intel's New 18-Core Xeon Sparks Server Bonanza]

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"We are making these systems really bulletproof in terms of how they are assembled and making sure there is no injection of security issues within the build process and the supply chain," Sanchez said. "All of the system components are brought into the U.S. and built by U.S. people with the code for systems locked between the processor and the systems management module. We know if the code has been tampered with."

IBM said in August it received approval for the sale of its x86 server business to Chinese computer giant Lenovo from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). But solution provider partners at the time said that regulatory approval of the deal was just the start of looming security questions. Meanwhile, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have been targeting IBM business partners in attempt to lure them to sell rival gear.

"What you are seeing from our competition is an attempt to defend themselves from the juggernaut of Lenovo that is about to happen," Sanchez said. "For all their bravado about stealing IBM business, our competition isn't doing very well."

As for IBM's M5 portfolio, Sanchez said, it revolves around a wide range of computing use cases ranging from cloud computing, enterprise applications and big data.

IBM's new servers, based on the Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors and up to 1.5 terabytes of memory, range from a System x3650 M5, a 2-socket, 2U rack server; System x3550 M5, a 1U, two socket server; System x3500 M5, a 5U, two socket tower rack; Flex System x240 M5, designed for virtualization and enterprise apps; NeXtScale nx360, a 1U server built for density; and NeXtScale System with Water Cool Technology, a direct water-cooled server.

Sanchez said that IBM and Lenovo are still operating as two separate companies, but that they are knee deep in "planning for day one" when Lenovo takes control of IBM's x86 business.

"Planning is all we can do right now," Sanchez said. "The planning is very deep. And you can expect on day one we are going to come out fighting."