Couchbase Server is a persistent database which means that part of monitoring the system is understanding how we interact with the disk subsystem.
Since Couchbase Server is an asynchronous system, any mutation operation is committed first to DRAM and then queued to be written to disk. The client is returned an acknowledgement almost immediately so that it can continue working. There is replication involved here too, but we're ignoring it for the purposes of this discussion.
We have implemented disk writing as a 2-queue system and they are tracked by the stats. The first queue is where mutations are immediately placed. Whenever there are items in that queue, our "flusher" (disk writer) comes along and takes all the items off of that queue, places them into the other one and begins writing to disk. Since disk performance is so dramatically different than RAM, this allows us to continue accepting new writes while we are (possibly slowly) writing new ones to the disk.
The flusher will process 250k items a a time, then perform a disk commit and continue this cycle until its queue is drained. When it has completed everything in its queue, it will either grab the next group from the first queue or essentially sleep until there are more items to write.