Yesterday's refresh of the iMac line is interesting, not because of the bump in speed that the refresh itself offers but because of the direction that Apple is going in. Is Apple preparing the way for gaming on the Mac?
First, let's look closer at that 3.06GHz processor option for the 24-inch iMac. Some of you might be wondering what that processor is. Well, I can tell you now that it's not an early incarnation of the Centrino 2 technology as some have suggested. It's a special run on an existing CPU overclocked to handle the 3.06GHz workload and 1,066MHz. It's definitely hosted on a Santa Rosa motherboard (the Intel GM965 northbridge and ICH8 southbridge gives that away). Apple's working the current technology hard to get 3.06GHz out of something designed to give 2.8GHz here. Why?
Then there's the GPU. This seems to be a stock nVIDIA 8800M GTS (even though Apple calls it an 8800 GS, but then again, Apple called Mobility HD 2600 XT parts HD 2600 Pro). This is a high-end GPU and certainly offers far more power than most Mac users currently need from the iMac.
Putting the overclocked processor and a high-end nVIDIA GPU in a box makes this system look like a gaming system to me. Sure, Apple is constrained by its use of mobile parts in the iMac, but the company does seem intent on squeezing as much power as it can out of the components.
Whether Apple is starting to cater for gamers using Boot Camp, or Apple is preparing the way for Mac OS X-based gaming I'm not sure, but either way it looks to me like Apple is getting into gaming. And why not, it's a lucrative market!