Those of you that carry out heavily threaded tasks such as intensive 3D work, video encoding, or Excel modeling would have marked down March 2010 as this was when Intel released their first desktop hexa-core processor. Backed with Hyper-Threading support, the Core i7 980X provides 12 working threads that grant considerable performance gains over its quad-core siblings in a number of applications.

Furthermore, by reducing the design process to 32nm, these extra cores and the extra performance come at no additional power expense. This was a lot to get us excited about, but like most Intel Extreme Edition processors the Core i7 980X is a tough sell given its $1,000 list price.

If money is no object then the six-core Core i7 980X processor is as good as it gets right now. Conversely, today's announcement from AMD is meant to follow the same trend as with recent Phenom CPU releases. AMD is hoping to offer a more attractive six-core processor by providing their Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition and Phenom II X6 1055T models at far more realistic prices.

The Phenom II X6 1090T BE is expected to hit shelves at just under $300, making it three times more affordable than the Core i7 980X.

At this price point, this 3.2GHz hexa-core AMD processor will be sitting alongside the Core i7 930 and Core i7 860 from Intel. Let me remind you that this is a fully unlocked Black Edition chip that depending on how it overclocks could be a real bargain for those of you willing to tweak your hardware a bit.

Those looking for something even cheaper, today's AMD announcement will not disappoint. The Phenom II X6 1055T will be sold for just $220, a mere $20 more than the Core i5 750. This should make for an interesting shoot out.

AMD is certainly making the necessary moves to provide Intel with some harsh competition. Our recent CPU round-up that looked at processors in the $100-$200 range saw AMD gaining ground in the value and mainstream targets, while lacking horsepower as we moved toward the higher-end models. If things fall into the right places, AMD could finally have an answer for the Core i5 750 and possibly processors beyond that mark.

Like all Phenom II processors, these new hexa-core versions are designed to work with DDR3 memory on the AM3 platform, but can also be coupled with older AM2/AM2+ motherboards using DDR2 memory. No doubt, an upgrader's dream come true considering the older platform is almost 4 years old.

For today's tests we will be using the newer AM3 platform with the new 890FX chipset that is also being introduced today.