Leverage hardware and software to improve ECDHE cipher performance


This enhancement is applicable only to the following platforms:

  • MPX/SDX 11542
  • MPX/SDX 14000
  • MPX 22000, MPX 24000, and MPX 25000
  • MPX/SDX 14000 FIPS (from release 12.0-56.x)

Previously, ECDHE computation on a NetScaler appliance was performed only on the hardware (Cavium chips), which limited the number of SSL sessions at any given time. With this enhancement, some operations are also performed in the software. That is, processing is done both on the Cavium chips and on the CPU cores to improve ECDHE cipher performance.

The processing is first performed in software, up to the configured software crypto threshold. After this threshold is reached, the operations are offloaded to the hardware. Therefore, this hybrid model leverages both hardware and software to improve SSL performance. You can enable the hybrid model by setting the “softwareCryptoThreshold” parameter to suit your requirement. To disable the hybrid model, set this parameter to 0.

Benefits are greatest if the current CPU utilization is not too high, because the CPU threshold is not exclusive to ECDHE computation. For example, if the current workload on the NetScaler appliance consumes 50% of the CPU cycles, and the threshold is set to 80%, ECDHE computation can use an additional 30% of the cycles. After the configured software crypto threshold of 80% is reached, further ECDHE computation is offloaded to the hardware. In that case, actual CPU utilization might exceed 80%, because performing ECDHE computations in hardware consumes some CPU cycles.

Enable the hybrid model by using the CLI

At the command prompt, type:

set ssl parameter -softwareCryptoThreshold <positive_integer>



NetScaler CPU utilization threshold (as a percentage) beyond which crypto operations are not done in software. A value of zero implies that CPU is not utilized for doing crypto in software.

Default = 0

Min = 0

Max = 100


set ssl parameter - softwareCryptoThreshold 80

show ssl parameter
Advanced SSL Parameters

SSL quantum size                  : 8 KB
Max CRL memory size               : 256 MB
Strict CA checks                  : NO
Encryption trigger timeout        : 100 ms
Send Close-Notify                 : YES
Encryption trigger packet c       : 45
Deny SSL Renegotiation            : ALL
Subject/Issuer Name Insertion Format : Unicode
OCSP cache size                   : 10 MB
Push flag                         : 0x0 (Auto)
Strict Host Header check for SNI enabled SSL sessions : NO
PUSH encryption trigger timeout   : 1 ms
Crypto Device Disable Limit       : 0
Global undef action for control policies : CLIENTAUTH
Global undef action for data policies : NOOP
Default profile                   : DISABLED
Disable TLS 1.1/1.2 for SSL_BRIDGE secure monitors    : NO
Disable TLS 1.1/1.2 for dynamic and VPN services : NO
Software Crypto acceleration CPU Threshold : 80
Signature and Hash Algorithms supported by TLS1.2 : ALL

Enable the hybrid model by using the GUI

  1. Navigate to Traffic Management > SSL > Change advanced SSL settings.
  2. Enter a value for Software Crypto Threshold (%).

Leverage hardware and software to improve ECDHE cipher performance