Since the introduction of the groundbreaking Nehalem architecture in 2008, Intel appears to have sewn up the desktop CPU market with a top-to-bottom line of subsequent processors. Core i3 "Clarkdale" occupies the entry level, Core i5 "Lynnfield" has a hold on the mid-range and the high-end, wicked-fast Core i7 "Gulftown" simply has no peer at the top of the performance ladder.
They say competition's a good thing, though, and whilst Intel couldn't be more comfortable following a record first quarter revenue of over $10 billion, it continues to be challenged in the value stakes by its long-standing adversary; Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
Pragmatically speaking, AMD is unlikely to offer anything truly revolutionary until it delivers its 32nm Fusion in 2011. But whilst nobody seems able to knock Intel from its dominant perch in the interim, AMD continues to put forward a compelling value proposition with its range of Phenom II processors.
Despite being overshadowed by Intel's Core architecture, Phenom II - first introduced early in 2009 in quad-core flavours - continues to be a viable option for the cash-strapped enthusiast, and it seems there's life in the old dog yet.
Eking out every last ounce of power from its K10 architecture, AMD is today raising the performance of its flagship Phenom II line with the launch of its first hexa-core desktop parts, codenamed Thuban, in the form of the Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition and X6 1055T.
Here's what's interesting; whilst Intel's all-conquering hexa-core chip will set you back in the region of £850, AMD's hexa-core alternatives start at under £200. Sounds promising, doesn't it? Let's take a look.