|No such thing as a small change|
At the YAPC::NA in June 2012, Patrick Michaud did a lightning talk (five minutes) about the speed of Rakudo, a leading Perl 6 compiler. (Video of his energetic and fun 5 minute presentation. To catch details you might want to look at his slides.)
In summary, for the chosen benchmarks, in June 2012 the Rakudo compiler was about 10x to 100x faster than it was 18 months prior, but still about 100x slower than mainstream languages/compilers like Perl 5's perl.
It's gotten faster since, but in late 2012 Larry Wall said on #perl6 "performance is still the main blocker to widespread adoption of Perl 6".
I agree with Larry. (There are other issues of course. Carl Mäsak immediately added "and CPAN/Perl 5 integration". But, as Larry went on to say, "if Perl 6 were fast enough, we couldn't stop people from translating Perl 5 CPAN into Perl 6 CPAN in droves".)
Rakudo is written in a mix of languages. For Rakudo to target a different VM than Parrot, a key chunk of the work involved is to port a small language called NQP that until very recently only ran on Parrot.
Jonathan Worthington began preparing a port of NQP to the JVM late last year. Jonathan has been making rapid progress on the port of NQP to JVM. Today he posted an outstanding blog post about the JVM port.
Then later today on #perl6 Nicholas Clark said "not exactly comparing like-with-like, but for various fibonachi example scripts, NQP on the JVM is 8 times faster than on Parrot and runs in about 60% of the time of Perl 5".
Early results often obscure all the work that is to come. Jonathan clearly thinks it'll take another few months to port Rakudo to the JVM. So don't expect a much faster Perl 6 this month. But it's clear that Perl 6 is going to get a lot faster in 2013.
I've been watching Perl 6 since the start. I recall the excitement and fun on #perl6 when Audrey was pushing Pugs forward very rapidly. I see the same signs this year, with Jonathan the genius at the center of a whirlwind of progress. If you love Perl and want to have a lot of fun, consider dropping in on #perl6, the freenode IRC channel.