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Is replication less resource intensive than high frequency reads?

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http://serverfault.com – I am beginning the development of a new web application which needs to be designed to scale from the word go. I am looking into database replication and the concept of master/slave replication (or publisher/subscriber - I think these are the same things but please correct me if I am wrong). The topology I have been reading about involves the master handling all of the database writes and the slave handling all of the reads. My question is: In a scenario where the slave must have as close to real-time data as possible, will transactional replication be less of a load on the master database (HowTos)