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The last decade has introduced various affordable computing platforms to the parallel computing community. Distributed shared-memory systems and clusters built with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts and interconnected with high-performance networks have proven to be serious alternatives to expensive supercomputers in terms of both performance and cost. HP's new AlphaServer ES80 is an example of distributed shared-memory systems, while SCI and Myrinet are the two most widely used high-performance interconnects in building parallel-computing clusters. In this study, we experimentally compare the performance of these parallel computer systems. The emphasis is pointing out the strengths and weakness of the HPs AlphaServer ES80 in comparison with high-performance SCI and Myrinet clusters. We evaluated the systems in terms of sustainable memory bandwidth, interprocess communication and overall parallel computation performance using various widely-accepted benchmarks such as STREAM, PALLAS PMB-MP1, and NAS2.3 parallel suite. It was observed that the HPs AlphaServer ES80, executing Linux, provides remarkable computing power while its communication subsystem cannot handle heavy loads of small messages as effectively.