One way of dealing with database contention is simply to add more databases. A simple solution to consistency issues that arise would be on a write, you simply write to all database. On a read, you can choose any database and read from it.
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On large database, it is also possible to apply logging & commit mechanisms, so that multiple writes are committed to database as one single block. The idea is that disk writes are fast for large chunk of contiguous sector, but slow for small chunks of sparse sectors.