Understanding Iostat

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We have a load balancer/session server that manages sessions in small files. I did a grep on the directory of session files and the server load went from 0.50 to 10.x, for all intents and purposes we were down until I canceled the grep.

According to this article on http://www.thattommyhall.com/2011/02/18/iops-linux-iostat/ tps is roughly analogous to iops. Running iostat on the device reports a tps that sometimes hits as high as 2000. Given a fairly standard 7200 RPM
SATA drive, with potential IOPS as high as perhaps 100, how is this even remotely possible? Is it due to sequential writes?