There is certainly some tuning in order to get good reviews. Almost all reviews are done on JPEGs, however, so this issue with NR on raws is not necessarily related to tuning for reviews. The blotchiness reported by Panopeeper does also effect high ISO JPEGS, however.
DPReview had never given good marks for noise to any Sony or Minolta camera, by the way, so would Sony have a strategi to do excessive noise reduction it certainly does not work with DPReview, nor does it work with DxO-mark.
Another way to see it is that without the A900 there would not be any 5DII. Canon would have no reason to release the 5DII unless there was competition. Would Nikon has released the D3x without the A900 and the 5DII being around no one would complain about the price.
Aside from that, the Sony A900 is essentially doing what it is supposed to do, nameley taking pictures and it is quite good at it. It is not really a high ISO camera nor intended for sports. As a landscape camera it works very well.
The noise reduction we are discussing is not a software solution to my best understanding but something done on chip,not necessarily in softfware but probable having to do with preamps before the ADC. That may be related that it cannot be shut off completely. Sony has not been secretive about this in any way, it has been published in their description of the sensor chip.
If you check DxO-mark the 1DsIII and the 5DII are in the same league as the A900 (within some decimals). The Nikon D3x is significantly better. Panopeeper is somewhat sceptical about the claims for the D3x, but we cannot now for shure unless DxO makes their "raw" images public or someone having a D3x makes the images Panopeeper needs for his evaluations.
It seems that Sony is guilty of what we called "tuning" their hardware to get a specific reaction from uncritical test sites. For example, Card manufacturers use to send their video cards to specific sites, knowing what software/hardware they used to analyze their cards. They would "tune" the card to perform extremely well on the tests. That latest about one quarter because the test sites caught on really fast to what was happening. That's why they always test synthetic and then back that up with ever revolving real time FPS analysis running each new iteration of game's built in FPS (frames per second) Demo. This is what Gabor is doing, backing up the "test" files by doing his own analysis at a level that cannot be faked.
And even though some people might think "So what, it looks really good, it looks like really high DR, and it looks like really low noise, so who cares?" And the answer is that if you need to manipulate an image that is noise reduced to a point of being unmanipulated, you lose the ability to further manipulate the image to your specific needs. And yeah Sony could put in a switch easily that allowed one to turn off noise reduction completely, but then everyone would be saying, Not that great noise control and DR but pretty good." And then all the people who ran out and bought the A900 might have bought the 5DMKII instead. That's a marketing decision, one that limits our control over our photography for sure.