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I can't speak of lower priorities on the scanner, but if you haven't already done so, you may want to investigate the AV software's exception capabilities, and if possible configure the process for the inventory scanner as an exception to not be monitored. LDISCN32 should be the name for it. Since the scanner touches a lot of the file system, part of the performance hit could be the AV software following the scanner process around like a puppy dog checking everything that the scanner is touching. Now, not all AV software allows for process exclusion, so don't feel too bad if you don't find that feature. Ours certainly doesn't! We found that out the hard way dealing with similar performance problems relating to the security scanner especially when performing spyware scanning. We'll be looking at different AV software in the not too distant future because of this limitation.
Anyways, hope thats a little bit helpful.