The Ext2fs kernel code contains many performance optimizations, which tend to improve I/O speed when reading and writing files.
Ext2fs takes advantage of the buffer cache management by performing readaheads: when a block has to be read, the kernel code requests the I/O on several contiguous blocks. This way, it tries to ensure that the next block to read will already be loaded into the buffer cache. Readaheads are normally performed during sequential reads on files and Ext2fs extends them to directory reads, either explicit reads (readdir(2) calls) or implicit ones (namei kernel directory lookup).
Ext2fs also contains many allocation optimizations. Block groups are used to cluster together related inodes and data: the kernel code always tries to allocate data blocks for a file in the same group as its inode. This is intended to reduce the disk head seeks made when the kernel reads an inode and its data blocks.
When writing data to a file, Ext2fs preallocates up to 8 adjacent blocks when allocating a new block. Preallocation hit rates are around 75% even on very full filesystems. This preallocation achieves good write performances under heavy load. It also allows contiguous blocks to be allocated to files, thus it speeds up the future sequential reads.
These two allocation optimizations produce a very good locality of: