A phase-locked loop (PLL) is commonly used in integrated circuit devices for frequency control. In a finished product, it comprises of sub-building blocks operating in a closed-loop control system which do not have register readback or test access points for easy debugging. Failure analysis becomes a challenge. This paper demonstrates the inherent limitation of relying only on dynamic fault isolation techniques, in specific frequency mapping for PLL failure debug. A systematic debug approach that combines volume failure characterization on test, additional characterization using dynamic photon emission and design simulation is then presented. Results are obtained on a 28 nm node device.