It's not wonderful Inter reverted the picture copying AMD?
Soon after the 486 era, AMD diverged from Intel creating it's own CPU architecture, one able to do more things by the same clock cycles. That was necessary, AMD couldn't compete in the raw clock speed at those times. It bought Alpha and prepared to start the 64 era sooner than Intel.
For a time that suited the industry and as always favored the users because none could rest on the conquered laurels. Intel began developing the project Larrabee, what's focused in the GPU model, the project was canceled and the i7 architecture emerged. i7 does for Intel the same Athlon did for AMD in the beginning, it lets aside the raw clock race for efficiency.
Again it is the concurrency acting in the background, AMD had bought ATI, the direct implication of it was AMD would compete in that speed race.
Now, after Intel launching successfully it's iX family AMD is lagging behind, but surprisingly it is quiet, AMD roadmap is kept very conservative. To me that roadmap is telling more for what it's not being talked. Something must be being cooked, AMD is already nearing to be 2 whole generations behind. In marketing terms it could mean the death.
That's the reason I think it's not Intel the main concern for AMD now, it's Nvidia and that thought makes me wonder if it's not in something resembling the Larrabee idea is what in the pressure pan. For I don't think the near future points to continue trying to squeeze the CPU architecture that is near the physical, quantum limit. The future points to integrating the controlling and logical capacity from CPU with the raw power provided by the parallel architecture from GPU with heavy two-way physics processing in the between. AMD roadmap already tells something about it, just I think it's not telling everything.
Just comparing clocks don't tell very much about performance. The I5 family is the concurrent for AMD that has nothing to compete with i7 other than it's 'fantastic' price preventing full adoption. I5 is a capped version, that proverbial poor cousin. I3 aims the mobile and very low end market.
In terms of cost/benefit I stick with AMD yet, mainly because I'm constantly upgrading the machine, something painful in the myriad of models, sockets and sheer incompatibilities from Intel. Besides, my goal is not to have the most powerful machine over there, it's having the most balanced machine at the moment.
PS: Athlon owners shouldn't forget it's an outdated architecture now, lacking too many things in relation to Phenom and mainly with the phenom II. The athlon II does not changes the fact the whole architecture is old, it's meant to supply today's low end market. The good news, it's relatively easy to upgrade to Phenom from them.