New ext4 vs XFS benchmarks using Fedora 11 Leonidas

What a difference a kernel rev and/or distribution make. If you recall from a previous post, I was unable to complete postmark testing on Ubuntu 9.04 using ext4, and had to recommend against ext4. Now, with the release of Fedora 11 “Leonidas”, a new kernel seems to make a big difference in performance and stability of ext4.

Some other observations before I show any numbers:

  • This is NOT the same computer as was used in the previous test, don’t use these numbers to compare between Ubuntu and Fedora. It’s a desktop with a 64-bit Athlon and 1GB RAM. I know, I know… I didn’t have access to the other box. Look at for a comparison of the two.
  • The 2.6.29 kernel seems to have a much better implementation of the CFQ I/O elevator, I only noticed a slight decrease in performance using deadline instead of the increase I usually get with XFS (ext3 and ext4 have always been tuned for CFQ).
  • In this version, using my usual (and sometimes unsafe and daring) mount switches didn’t seem to make a huge difference on XFS and none in ext4 or even ext3, Fedora 11 is really a distribution that the developers want you to be able to use without much fussing.
  • On all tests, I created XFS with mkfs.xfs -f -l lazy-count=1 -l size=128m /dev/…  – this enables the 2 main (and safe) tunings that I believe everyone should follow with XFS. Kinda hard to do while installing a distribution, the Fedora 11 installed wasn’t happy about it. Ubuntu is more forgiving, it lets you boot into the LiveCD and you can manually create partitions before you let the installer do its thing. Convenient for single-root-partition installs…
  • “XFS tuned” means mounted with noatime,logbsize=256k,nobarrier (nobarrier is unsafe unless you’re on a UPS).
  • “ext3 tuned” means barrier=0,noatime,data=writeback. Used to make a big difference…
  • The same disk area was used for all tests
  • Scribefire on Firefox sucks compared to Mac- or Windows-based offline blog editors. There are some KDE-based ones but I didn’t want to download 100s of MB of KDE support infrastructure to run a 600K blog program…

Postmark numbers:

Filesystem Read MB/s Write MB/s IOPS
XFS defaults 4.9 10.34 215
XFS tuned 6.23 13.16 263
XFS noatime,logbsize 6.38 13.47 263
ext4 noatime 9.62 20.32 416
ext3 noatime 5.71 12.06 238
ext3 “tuned” 5.32 11.24 219
ext3 writeback,noatime 4.73 9.98 192

Bonnie++ numbers:

Block writes KB/s Rewrite KB/s  
XFS defaults 328.4 116600 52066
XFS tuned 328.6 119981 51639
XFS noatime,logbsize 333 119781 50519
ext4 noatime 335.1 117285 48797
ext3 noatime 294.6 100771 43033


  • Ext4 shows great promise!
  • For sheer MB/s on large files, XFS is still better by a small margin
  • If you want to be doing operations on many small files, ext4 is great
  • The reworked CFQ scheduler rocks


6 Replies to “New ext4 vs XFS benchmarks using Fedora 11 Leonidas”

  1. Good article,

    I’ll be going with XFS as well. Why take a chance with ext4, when XFS is so fast and mature. The fact that the ext4 team postponed releasing the online defragment utility blows away the incentive to switch.

    Plus why take a chance that my production systems might lose data with an unfinished release of ext4. For example ext4 can blank out files that have not been undated from the journal during a power fail or unclean shutdown (instead of leaving the data of old version of the file intact; i.e. PERMANENT DATA LOSS); this is due the way theodore tso implemented delayed allocation and his the EXT journaling algorithm.

  2. nice comparison
    by today it seems that EXT4 is better than XFS in performance
    but personally i prefer XFS because is mature, and uses the maximun space possible.

  3. I’ve been using XFS, both at home and in production at work, since 2002 and I have to say that EXT4 will have to really nail home the numbers in order to convince me to change. The maturity, and the market in which it matured (various higher end SGI servers, US military and various others) and the fact that XFS has saved my ass more than once in the past are all compelling reasons to stick with it. I’ll be keeping an eye on EXT4, but it has a ways to go before i would actually make the move.

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