AMD is about to bring the six-core processor closer to the mainstream with its Phenom II X6 1090T "Thuban" CPU, long announced but finally starting to appear in the hands of the masses. The 1090T is showing up for pre-order at online stores for between $300 and $350, which is more than $600 cheaper than Intel's current six-core desktop processor, the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition.
While you wait for the chip's official release later this month, some lucky individuals have already received the processor and put it to the test. The verdict is that its performance falls somewhere between the Intel Core i7-860 (a quad core about $50 less than the 1090T) and the Core i7-965 Extreme, Intel's previous fastest desktop processor that still costs around $1,000 if you can find it. This falls in line with expectations that the six-core Phenoms couldn't totally compete with the i7-980X but would provide most of the horsepower for a far lower price. No doubt there will be more benchmarking from familiar sources available on release day.
Of course, overclocking would get you closer to the i7-980X's performance, and one overclocker has already tweaked the 1090T to sky-high levels. Using liquid nitrogen to keep the chip chilly, the overclocker managed to juice the CPU to 6.29GHz, almost twice its stock speed of 3.2GHz, though at a rather unstable voltage of 1.928V.
Will the 1090T and AMD's other forthcoming six-core chips help make a dent in Intel's desktop market share? If nothing else, it will have the midrange hexa-core market to itself for a while, as Intel's Core i7-970 isn't rumored to be due until the third quarter of 2010.