The Tech Report writes: "One of the great privileges of this job is having my own test lab full of the very latest PC hardware for testing and comparison. At least, it's a privilege if you're a huge geek who's into such things. For years now, the prime slot on my CPU test bench, closest to the monitor and keyboard and associated with port one on my KVM switch, has been occupied by AMD-based systems. The positioning doesn't mean much of anything, really, but I figure an underdog like AMD ought to be first at something, so why not?
Port one has fallen on hard times lately, though. AMD's Phenom processors haven't quite been good enough to keep pace with Intel's latest CPUs, for a variety of reasons. They were late to market, tripped up early on by a show-stopping bug, and couldn't reach the right clock speeds within the power and thermal limits common to PC processors. AMD has remained fairly competitive by keeping Phenom prices low, but a great many PC enthusiasts have been wooed by the Core 2 processors' combination of strong performance, low power consumption, and considerable overclocking headroom. The picture only has grown more difficult for AMD with the arrival of the Core i7 and its occasionally heart-stopping speed.
AMD has a potential remedy for the port one blues, though, in the form of the Phenom II, a revised Phenom processor that has been moved to a new, smaller chip fabrication process and tweaked in a variety of ways to achieve higher clock speeds and to wring more performance from every tick of the clock. As a result, port one has been producing some very respectable benchmark scores of late. Could it be that, in the midst of Intel's ongoing resurgence-nay, dominance-AMD somehow has its swagger back?"