The rotational delay is the expected minimum time (in milliseconds) it takes the CPU to complete a data transfer and initiate a new data transfer on the same disk cylinder. The default delay is zero, as delay-based calculations are not effective when combined with modern on-disk caches.
When writing a file, the UFS allocation routines try to position new blocks on the same disk cylinder as the previous block in the same file. The allocation routines also try to optimally position new blocks within tracks to minimize the disk rotation needed to access them.
To position file blocks so they are "rotationally well-behaved," the allocation routines must know how fast the CPU can service transfers and how long it takes the disk to skip over a block. Using options to the mkfs command, you can indicate how fast the disk rotates and how many disk blocks (sectors) it has per track. The allocation routines use this information to figure out how many milliseconds it takes to skip a disk block. Then using the expected transfer time (rotational delay), the allocation routines can position or place blocks so that the next block is just coming under the disk head when the system is ready to read it.
It is not necessary to specify the rotational delay (-d option to newfs) for some devices.
Place blocks consecutively only if your system is fast enough to read them on the same disk rotation. If the system is too slow, the disk spins past the beginning of the next block in the file and must complete a full rotation before the block can be read, which takes a lot of time. You should try to specify an appropriate value for the gap so that the head is located over the appropriate block when the next disk request occurs.
You can change the value of this parameter for an existing file system by using the tunefs command. The change applies only to subsequent block allocation, not to blocks already allocated.