AMD decided to lift the Radeon HD 4850 press embargo because these cards are already available in stores all over the world. It's not really a hard launch but at least you can expect some more info on the card's performance later today:
Yes we have just made a decision to change something.
Here’s what we’re planning to do. Effective 3:00 PM CET today we will be lifting the embargo preventing the publishing of ATI Radeon HD 4850 performance previews. These performance previews may include ATI Radeon HD 4850 benchmarks, photos of the ATI Radeon HD 4850 hardware, information printed on related packaging or photos of the packaging itself, information provided in the ATI Radeon HD 4800 series strategy deck (attached) and related pricing information.
All other ATI Radeon HD 4850 related information provided at the NDA press briefings continues to fall under the embargo until 12:01am EDT on June 25th, as does all information and benchmarks related to the ATI Radeon HD 4870.
Basically what’s happened is our partners have started selling the products and in some cases reviewers that we have and have not sampled have already bought and received the product and published stories. We’re not able to control the situation anymore so we need to give the media the ability to publish info.