Not really, but for the short term I have a work around.
I think what might be causing problems is a known issue with order by and limit in mysql. I’m no mysql guru, but my tests point to that being the issue. I found several posts in the mysql forums (unfortunately I can’t find them now) that mention performance issues occurring with LIMIT and ORDER BY.
If the products are ordered simply by the id then it seems to load fairly quickly, but if you change this order then it’s pretty bad.
I’m actually at a place where I could really use some good advise on this. We are about to add even more products and I’m just not sure magento can handle it without upgrading the server drastically.