if you need to process a lot of data its going to put a lot of load on the server no matter what you do. If you want to lower the aparent load on the servers (at the expense of your query taking longer) you can use sleep (with Time::HiRes you can sleep for a partial second). One thing you can do to improve performance on your side is to use fetchrow_arrayref instead of fetchrow_array. That will at least cut down on one string copy...
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