The crypto acceleration of Sparc and Solaris when it's used for SSL acceleration is right in the sweet spot of confluence between networking, crypto, performance and architecture. In other words just about my favorite place!
Before we get into the technical bits we should probably have a common picture in our heads about what sort of architecture we're talking about. When you deploy web apps you usually have user traffic hit a load balancer which then routes the traffic to your servers. The simplest diagram of that sort of environment is the three boxes diagram - like so:
There are a bunch of different styles of VIP / Load Balancer and there are various ways to configure them. The most common ways (in no particular order) are:
1) Terminate SSL connections at VIP/load balancer
2) Terminate TCP connection at VIP/load balancer, but pass traffic through unchanged
3) Transparent load balancing via a NAT style networking device.
I've seen various names for these technologies, so I'm not going to try to assign names to them for the purposes of this post.
In the case of #1 above the connection between the VIP/LB and the back end server is usually simple, unsecured HTTP. You might use this model if the load balancer has SSL acceleration technologies (either via a hardware card or some software optimization). In the case of #2 and #3 all of the SSL work is handled by the backend server.
Solaris on Sparc offers a few ways to really boost the performance of WebLogic Server. Read on to see what they are.
The Sparc processor, especially in its latest revision called the T3, offers some pretty amazing capabilities for crypto operations. The T3 includes 16 cryptographic acceleration engines that support a whole bunch of algorithms including not just AES, but the whole gamut of modern crypto algorithms and constructs. Things like AES, DES, 3DES, SSL, RSA and more. And it can do those operations at wire speed - which on the Sparc T3 is 10 GbE. To put that another way the Sparc T3 does crypto operations at ludicrous speed.
Check out this Wikipedia article and Oracle's web site on the T3 for more info on the processor for more in depth info.
Usually if you wanted to actually take advantage of the crypto acceleration capabilities of the processor your software would need to be specially written to make the necessary calls to the CPU. Thankfully Sun and Oracle thought ahead and wired these capabilities right into the JVM's crypto bits (also/formerly known as JCE). So if you run the Sun JVM on Solaris you've got access to the Sparc crypto acceleration for free! There's all sorts of great information out there about these features. A good place to start is this article on the Sun Performance and Best Practices blog. That post also points you to a couple of really great PDFs on Oracle technet that discuss Weblogic on the T Series and SOA and OWSM on T Series.
I don't want to rehash the entire content of that post, but this graph says it all: