The working set seems to have been too small to cause much disk activity which may explain the counterintutive result (ext3 being faster than jfs and xfs). Most of the data I have seen on larger server benchmarks (whose working set exceeds physical memory) showed ext3 somewhat worse. The updates to ext3 seem promising though.
In any case a good xattr performance test ala iozone or equivalent would be helpful as well.
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