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Disk writes are the problem in my case, and I'm comfortable making that assertion (I'm not new to this particular game). Reads are plenty fast, it's writes that are a problem. Certainly, it is a pathological problem with the disk subsystem that makes it suck, but it does suck, and if I could flip a switch and say "stop waiting for the disk, write it whenever you can" without risking breaking consistency on crashes, I would do so.

It seems like, from another comment, that setting innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit to a non-1 value is roughly what I want, though it still flushes every second, which is probably more often than I need, but may resolve the problem of the application waiting for the commit to disk, which is probably enough.

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