The lucky bastards from Hexus got their hands on a Intel Core i7 quad-core, eight-threaded 2.93GHz pre-production processor for a couple of hours and compared it to several of Intel's Core 2 processors and the AMD Phenom X4 9950 BE. The Nehalem system featured a pre-production Intel X58 based motherboard, 3GB Kingston DDR3-1066 memory in triple-channel mode and a Radeon HD 4870.
You can check out the full preview at Hexus. All tests were done on pre-production hardware and while there were still some issues the results look very good for Intel - the Core i7 is up to 50 percent faster than an equivalently-clocked Kentsfield Core 2 Quad processor and will give AMD some serious headaches.
Talking about the consumer space, Intel has enjoyed a performance lead over AMD for some time, and it's only going to continue, unabated, with the release of the Nehalem core. AMD's response will come in the form of a Phenom-upgraded processor, Shanghai, but it will need to be something special, really, really special, for it to effectively counter the Nehalem threat.
Knowing the likely pricing of initial Nehalem CPUs, the ramifications of the new architecture are more than just related to performance, however. AMD, it seems, will not be able to compete against the Nehalem's performance, even with Shanghai, and, so, the pricing of subsequent Phenoms will be indirectly set by Intel. We can't see a Phenom being sold for, say, $500 anytime soon; AMD doesn't have the necessary power to do so, unless it can pull a rabbit out of the silicon bag.