A few questions on setting partitioning the hardrive.

Hello,
I am reinstalling Arch because I want to make the jump from i686 to Arch64. I really want this to be the last time I reinstall an OS on this laptop, so I have a few questions on the most efficient way to set up the partitions.
1) Is it safer to have a seperate boot partition? I really don't mind setting aside 100MB or so for boot, but I keep hearing you really don't have to do that with Arch anymore.
2) How does optimization work? Are partitions that are created higher on the list faster to access? What I'm looking for is a really fast computer while in use. I don't care about boot time very much, and my swap drive is barely used. Would this be a good set up for what I'm looking for?
SDA1 Root
SDA2 VAR
SDA3 Home
SDA4 Swap
SDA5 Boot
3) Is ext4 a good idea? I really like the speed and all that, but it's still in development, right? When it's finished, would I be able to update the filesystems or once I make them are they always stuck in their current state? I was thinking ext2 for boot then ext4 for everything else.

I'm not too sure on that one as i have never tried it but it might be possible to boot from your live cd, backup your /var partition reformat it then copy the data back on to it but don't quote me on that.
I don't think you will notice any difference regarding which order you mount your partition's, I have been through a bunch of different partition setup's and have not noticed any speed difference between them only between different filesystem's
I have the same partition setup as your first post minus the boot partition
/dev/sda1 / ext4 defaults,noatime 0 1
/dev/sda2 /var reiserfs defaults,noatime 0 1
/dev/sda3 /home ext4 defaults,noatime 0 1
/dev/sda4 swap swap defaults 0 0

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