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Extremely Slow IO with Simple PostgreSQL 8.4.4 Queries on Centos 5.5

The strange and extremely slow IO pattern I'm seeing is this (output of iostat -dxk 1 /dev/xvdb1): Device: rrqm/s wrqm/s r/s w/s rkB/s wkB/s avgrq-sz avgqu-sz await svctm ...