XFS is SGI's high-performance 64-bit filesystem, originally developed for use with its IRIX operating system. SGI machines have traditionally had to work with large data sets on machines with many processors, which is reflected in the way that XFS works. One of the best features of XFS is that it offers independent domains of data across the filesystem. This allows a multiprocessor system to access and change data in different allocation groups independently of each other. This also means that instead of a single write happening to the filesystem at one time, multiple reads and writes can take place at the same time. This provides a significant performance boost for enterprise-level data storage. This may not sound like something that would work in the traditional sense of a single disk on a home PC, but if you have a storage area network in which multiple data streams are provided by many disks, the idea works very well.

Like ReiserFS, XFS uses its journal to store information about file metadata and employs binary trees to handle allocation of data. An added feature of XFS is that it also uses a binary tree to store information about free space. This helps speed up block allocation for new information. As you would expect from a filesystem originally developed for machines that process huge amounts of multimedia data, XFS is especially good at allocating and managing huge files.

XFS is truly an enterprise filesystem and may not prove overwhelmingly attractive for a home user, but for large amounts of data and high-end machines, it really is an excellent choice.

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