But, as you said, you aren't doing the same kind of work in perl ... so it's likely that if you do the work differently in SQL it'll be faster. I'd put money on postgresql vs. perl for calculating a table of numbers from another set of numbers.
Saying that it matters a _lot_ what version of postgresql you are using, so an upgrade to postgresql-8.0 could provide the speedup you need ... and an increase in other parts :).
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