A method and apparatus mechanism for testing data processing devices are implemented. The test mechanism isolates critical paths by correlating a scanning microscope image with a selected speed path failure. A trigger signal having a preselected value is generated at the start of each pattern vector. The sweep of the scanning microscope is controlled by a computer, which also receives and processes the image signals returned from the microscope. The value of the trigger signal is correlated with a set of pattern lines being driven on the DUT. The trigger is either asserted or negated depending the detection of a pattern line failure and the particular line that failed. In response to the detection of the particular speed path failure being characterized, and the trigger signal, the control computer overlays a mask on the image of the device under test (DUT). The overlaid image provides a visual correlation of the failure with the structural elements of the DUT at the level of resolution of the microscope itself.
This invention was made with government support under contract number DE-AC04-94-AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government has certain rights in the invention.