High load despite no queries

Yesterday morning our brand new database server ran into some issues. We have a new DL585, 16GB ram, 8 CPU machine, running MySQL 5.0.26. Suddenly, the web servers were unable to perform queries on the machine. (I’m not sure if they were unable to connect - they were taken out of the load balancer rotation, unfortunately I was not there at the time).

Our sys admin logged into the DB machine, and noticed there was extremely high CPU load. Using show processlist, he found no queries in the queue.

Is there something MySQL could be doing that would not show up in the process list that could cause high CPU utilization? I have examined all of the triggers, and none of them look like they should cause the problem…

might be useful to check your logs to see if any connection errors were recorded, and what they were. If youre using php check in php_error too