It is really something wrong with all the kernels > 2.6.20. I get results with the threaded io write test with 64MB and 32 threads about 500ms with 2.6.20 kernel. While the kernel 2.6.29 kernels returns times about 2.500ms on my machine. I have remove the smp support on my Core2 Duo @ 2.4GHz to minimize scheduler differences. Both kernels are vanila kernels.
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Linux 2.6.30 Kernel Benchmarks