After a quick googling I found this article at Sun on finding out what’s going on with your processes from a terminal. Just type:
into a terminal and get a great regularly refreshing task list. There are other commands to do similar things & prstat can do a lot more I’m sure but this is dead handy.
Turns out that Java (probably the Java desktop environment) chews a fair amount of cpu just sitting there not doing anything, its almost always at the top of the list for cpu percentage. It could be because I am using RDP to remote in via Remote Desktop but still, it’s not great.