One of the big focuses of Maven 3 is to provide a more reliable, more stable and better performing build tool. And one big area of improvement is Performance.
Maven 3 has the (new and somewhat experimental) ability to analyze your project structure, and the dependencies between your modules, to figure out which modules can be built in parallel. This has major performance implications for larger multi-module projects - the documentation reports typical speed increases of 20-50%.
To configure your modules to be built in parallel, you need to tell Maven how many threads you want to work with. The following command will run Maven using 4 threads:
mvn -T 4 clean install
Or you can get Maven to calculate how many threads to run, based on the number of available CPU cores. In this example, Maven will run up to 2 threads per core in parallel.
mvn -T 2C clean install
The biggest speed increase comes from tests. Of course, not all tests can be run in parallel - if two modules both start up a web server on the same port, for example, you will get yourself into trouble. Speed increases will also depend on how your tests are distributed through your modules - if all the slow ones are together in one module, for example, speed increases are likely to be limited. In this case, you might want to also try running your unit tests in parallel.