(EDIT: replaced the link I found via YouTube's search with the original, thanks robotmlg!)
Turned out that the BMC beeped the internal speaker which vibrated the chassis at the right harmonic frequency that matches the HDD sensitivity spot and reduced performance. After that we disconnected the speaker on all servers.
The overall nose may impact the HDD performance but mostly if the vibration is at the right frequencies. Some are a lot more important than others.
I wonder if somewhere out there there's a sysadmin pulling their hair out trying to figure out why their I/O shits the bed every now and then.
In that case the valve holding back the gas failed so it was an unexpected release. Would not have wanted to be in there at the time - no warning!
I know vibration affects hard drives, but (AFAIK) data center drives are mounted on anti-vibration mounts for exactly that reason. But sound? Goodness!
It's not shocking that strong external vibration that induces resonances in the mechanical components causes dysfunction: the miracle is that hard drives function at all, even in the face of mild mechanical maltreatment.
They present 'Resonance attack against HDD':
They include code etc.
Too bad they only tested 4 WD Blue (consumer/desktop) drives; I would've liked to see other models, particularly WD Black (high end workstations), Gold (datacenter), and Purple (DVR applications). The WD Blacks I use are noticeably heavier, and they do advertise them as having more vibration dampening.
And, though technically it can be said (as stated in the conclusions) that the technnique may represent a "non-contact DoS attack", the experiments with speakers placed at 15 and 25 cm from the device cases don't really qualify for "feasability of real-world attack".
I mean if you can get access to be able to place a speaker within 15, 25 (or even 500 cm for that matters) from a device, there are much easier ways to attack it.
If you could somehow transmit the sound waves/vibrations with enough intensity to be able to affect a hard disk from another room or from the outside of a building, then that would be a feasible realworld atttack.
Can carry information, cf. Huygens synchronization, oscillators sync up through resonance...