You didn't exactly say which version of suse 10.1 you have - for instance, I am using a downloaded GM (Gold Medal) version that I patched from RC3 (Release Candidate 3) and I have substantially updated and amended it [mainly with package management enhancements from suse-factory].
It sounds to me that your suse 10.1 is still using the 'original' novell-zmd, libzypp, mono package management system that was basically broken when released. Although I downloaded all the suggested patches and updates it would take up to 1.5GB of my RAM, 5 minutes at 2000 MHz (top speed of my lappy's amd64 CPU) and 97% of 'top' processes (y2base) to update the repositories that I had attached. Since I have 3 suse distros, each on the own partition, I regularly reboot into one or the other, and this 5 minute wait was unacceptable.
The solution is to download and install smart package manager. Disable novell-zmd in the Yast2 --> System --> System Services (Runlevel) and reboot.
Hopefully I have guessed your situation correctly ... if not let me know.