Resistive switching (RS) is one of the foremost candidates for building novel types of non-volatile random access memories. Any practical implementation of such a memory cell calls for a strong miniaturization, at which point fluctuations start playing a role that cannot be neglected. A detailed understanding of switching mechanisms and reliability is essential. For this reason, we formulate a particle model based on the stochastic motion of oxygen vacancies. It allows us to investigate fluctuations in the resistance states of a switch with two active zones. The vacancies' dynamics are governed by a master equation. Upon the application of a voltage pulse, the vacancies travel collectively through the switch. By deriving a generalized Burgers equation we can interpret this collective motion as nonlinear traveling waves, and numerically verify this result. Further, we define binary logical states by means of the underlying vacancy distributions, and establish a framework of writing and reading such memory element with voltage pulses. Considerations about the discriminability of these operations under fluctuations together with the markedness of the RS effect itself lead to the conclusion, that an intermediate vacancy number is optimal for performance.
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