One of us is missing something for sure, maybe me.
Currently my gold standard for these things. Apple acquired and shutdown FoundationDB, which appeared awesome too. There's been at least two that combined high-performance with higher consistency. CochroachDB's people indicated in prior conversations they're trying to do something similar to Google's but without the GPS reliance. They've been blogging about their techniques for doing so with them hitting HN often. I suggest reading those to evaluate whether you think their methods make sense.
Underneath all that, the code has to be written with correctness and stability in mind from the beginning to end. That's the part they skipped. It's on their blog, too.
I'm going to try to avoid being rude, but it's very clear you just haven't done more than a cursory glance at their material and don't even know the broad shape of what you're disparaging.
Cockroach follows the same general pattern as spanner. The database is sharded into independent subranges or spans. Each span is hosted by a group of replicas using raft consensus. Transactions use a lock free 2 phase protocol atop the sea of raft replica sets.
This general pattern is a nice design that I expect to become increasingly common over the next decade. The consensus groups are fault tolerant, so the transaction protocol avoids the classic problem with distributed two phase commit not tolerating failure of the coordinator. It allows horizontal scalability for transactions that don't interfere with each other, and preserves correctness and consistency for those that do via the transaction protocol. Read the spanner paper for more about this general idea.
This is a state of the art design, that you would not be capable of producing without reading the majority of the distributed systems literature published in the last 2 decades.
They know what CAP is.
The design is nothing like couchbase. Systems like spanner and cockroach are capable of full Serializable Snapshot Isolation. They provide point in time snapshot reads across the entire distributed system, including points of time in the past (it's explicitly a multi-version database). These systems can provide full external consistency. Again, this is nothing like couchbase. Couchbase has it's advantages, and some applications can tolerate the lack of consistent reads and only single document atomicity.
Read https://github.com/cockroachdb/cockroach/blob/master/docs/de... to pick up what you missed about cockroach specifically.
I've read most of their design documents and commentaries since the very start and it's clear they've read the bulk of the distributed systems literature, including some of the most novel papers to be published in the few years. Here's two papers that they've referenced as inspiring/informing their design that I particularly like:
It looks like you were already somewhat aware that you'd not understood what the design is or what its properties are. I'd encourage you check into things a bit more and be sure you really do know what you think you know before making disparaging remarks.
Likewise with 2 phase. Lots of analysis out there. Building on such proven protocol designs will help them out in long run to get where they want to be.