AMD has positioned itself as the price/performance leader. They have inexpensive components positioned at almost every level. This should be pushing them into people's systems, but for any of you that were around in the K6-II and K6-III days, you'll remember that having a lower priced CPU does not always move the consumer. In many cases the lower price makes them feel they are not getting a comparable product. I am not saying that AMD should charge more for their CPUs, but that their pricing structure could be hurting them in a way.
The Phenom II X6 1090T will hit the shelves at about $300. This is one third of the cost of the Intel Core i7-980X with the same amount of physical cores. However, in many of our tests the 1090T only performed a little better than the Core i5 750 which sells for $200 right now. The 1090T did run well compared to the Xeon X3470 (which is comparable to the i7 870), but only in a handful of tests.
One area that just about all AMD CPUs we have tested needs to improve on is memory performance. Here is one of AMD's big weak points. This single factor hurts AMD CPUs more than many would like to believe. If you cannot quickly get the information from memory to the CPU and back, you are going to lose in the end. We saw this in more than one of our tests.
Still, things are not all bad with the Phenom II X6. It does give you many cored performance at a very reasonable price. AMD has also left in the DDR2/DDR3 controller so that even people with older AM2+ boards can use this CPU with little more than a BIOS update. This makes the upgrade to the Phenom II X6 extremely cost effective as opposed to having to do a complete system upgrade. Of course, you are still not going to get the same level of performance that you would with an Intel X58/ Core i7 combo, but you are going to save a ton of money with the AMD CPU.
The cost savings are even more evident to the gamer. Here you can get a good board, CPU and a great GPU for less than just the CPU and board alone if you are looking an X58/ Core i7 9xx system. This could make the Phenom X6, 890FX, Radeon HD 5000 Series combination the new choice to low cost, high-end gaming systems.
AMD is moving (slowly) in the right direction. Their CPUs are getting better and better with each new release. They are not quite there yet, but I have to admit the Phenom II X6 is the first one that I have seen give current generation Intel CPUs a run for their money in a long time. I hope we see AMD continue to move this way and future releases push the performance levels up even higher.