In a previous life I was involved in the performance measurement of coalescing disk writes, and we found a very large number of sequential writes could be coalesced into single writes, and then adjacent blocks coalesced into larger singe writes. This paid off particularly well when a disk was being handed writes at or beyond it's capacity, by removing unneeded writes. I think I still have the graphs somewhere (;-))
I'll comment on the non-sequential case in a sec, after I look at my archive.
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