You can increase the emulator performance by changing the simulated ram from 256MB to something higher such as 512MB. If using Eclipse its in the emulator settings via the individual avd. If not using eclipse its in the config.ini file of your avd.

When you create a new avd it will have default config.ini settings, for example beginning with API 8 OEMs had started setting the device ram setting in their ADDons but default Google API avds still not setting it. Thus, you have to add it for any avd created for the non OEM ADDons(ie Google).

Do a ram check first and see how much RAM you have left to use, ie you meed physical ram not swap. Even on little 32bit 4 Gig RAM workstations with Eclipse and a browser opened you should have 512 Megs of physical RAM to use for that purpose.

For those doing the change manually, in your .android dir under the avd dir each name.avd folder the config.ini is where you add the line to make the change. Look at one of the OEMs ADDons that is API 8 or higher to see what line to add.