I have a small one server SharePoint implementation. I have a full crawl set for Saturday morning. During full crawls, the CPU spikes to above 97% utilization for a very long duration and Alarm Point sends a page to the infrastructure team. Is there any way for me to reduce the impact of search crawls? I have the priority of the crawl set to 'normal' and I have tried multiple times but see the same result.
To answer your specific question, yes, there is. Go into Central Administration - Shared Services - Search Administration (or if you are on 2010, Manage the Search Service Application) and there is a link on the left called "Crawler Impact Rules". You can use those to control how hard the crawler hits the site. Bear in mind that reducing the impact will also increase the duration of the crawl, which can be an issue if you have a lot of content
Do a incremental crawl instead of a full crawl. You really don't need a full crawl that often and on a small server it will really drag it down. You could change that crawl to be once every few days instead. Another idea is to make sure that the time it runs is the time with the least traffic (not sure of sat morning means 6AM or 1AM)