For example, is there a tool or method where I can say (for example) "generate up to 50 MB/s of read activity to this file, but no greater"? Or configure a tiny delay between read operations, which could have basically the same effect? I have a specific need to create an I/O workload that's more deterministic than a normal dd or disk stress test. I'm looking for something that works in Linux...
You can use cpipe with -s option.